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Planting the Seeds for Transformation to Eradicate Systems of Oppression with Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda, owner of Hathaway Miranda LLC.

Planting the Seeds for Transformation to Eradicate Systems of Oppression with Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda, owner of Hathaway Miranda LLC.

May 1, 2024

Episode 007:

Planting the Seeds for Transformation to Eradicate Systems of Oppression with Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda, owner of Hathaway Miranda LLC.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda, M.A. is an award-winning bilingual and bicultural Latina. She has over 25 years of experience as an educator and researcher. Heather is the founder and owner of Hathaway Miranda LLC, where she offers speaking, consulting, racial healing circles, and coaching services dedicated to eradicating oppression in all its forms. She is a survivor on many levels, a compassionate mother who loves to travel, create, and read. She is also a proud military spouse and daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of veterans.

So excited for you to meet this week’s guest,Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda, whose life experiences have undeniably crafted a beautiful path of transformation for many as well as herself. “A raisin in milk” is how she describes her childhood which has given her the gift to be a bridge for others and create racial healing for individuals as well as organizations. She’s a brave, badass, bold survivor who knows how to make change one connection at a time. A Part Two Episode is absolutely necessary to delve deeper into the rich tapestry of her life. Disfrutar!


About My Guest

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda, M.A. is an award-winning bilingual and bicultural Latina. She has over 25 years of experience as an educator and researcher. Heather is the founder and owner of Hathaway Miranda LLC, where she offers speaking, consulting, racial healing circles, and coaching services dedicated to eradicating oppression in all its forms. She is a survivor on many levels, a compassionate mother who loves to travel, create, and read. She is also a proud military spouse and daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of veterans.


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HSSF 007 – Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda

Lesley Whitehead: [00:00:00] Hi, beautiful. This is your host, Lesley Whitehead, and I am so excited to share this bold, brave, badass, creative woman with you. I hope our conversation inspires you not to let anything get in the way of your passion projects. I promise you, we need whatever is on your heart to create for this world. 

Hi, beautiful woman. I am here with my latest guest, Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda. Did I do well with that? 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Miranda. Spanish one.

Lesley Whitehead: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. I want to tell you a little bit about her before we get started. She is an award winning bilingual, [00:01:00] bicultural Latina and invited international speaker, consultant, and coach with more than 25 years of experience. She offers speaking, consulting, racial healing circles, and coaching as the Fierce Founder and owner of Hathaway Miranda LLC. She has dedicated her life to eradicating isms. We’re going to talk about that for sure. Um, she also is a raising and compassionate 10 year old voracious reader and rock collector with whom she loves to travel, create, read, and laugh. She is also a proud military spouse and we’re going to hear more about that. Her life’s mission is to plant seeds for positive transformative change. That is a mouthful. Heather, thank you so much for being here.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Thank you. Muchas gracias. [00:02:00] We’re going to do our vows. Thank you so much for the invitation. I’m thrilled to spend some time

Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic, but I have lots of questions, but before we get started, I want you to tell us a little bit in a broad sense about what you do, and then we’ll get into the nitty gritty details of everything.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Wonderful. So I think my entire life I have served as a bridge between folks and I’ve just come from two backgrounds, but in situations To help folks see two sides that they might be, uh, opposing or also like how to have more care about things that are difficult. And there’s been lots of trials and tribulations that I have faced being marginalized or oppressed, uh, my identity, which I hope will unfold.

So it’s all led after, uh, three decades of Being an educator, a researcher, administrator, or doing [00:03:00] services, working in non for profits to formalize the work of speaking and consulting around intersectionality and, relating to my identity. To help others in organizational spaces and government spaces and communities and schools and one on one with people who may be a face trauma of different types, but bringing in a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice, uh, trying to help with permission, bring things to the light of those who are sometimes are rendered voiceless as I have many times been.

So that’s kind of the, the big picture is really trying to make the world a better place one by one, leaving heart prints, um, as in, you know, footprints only and arcs and, I know that my work won’t be done in a lifetime, but I hope, uh, one by one, the work that I do or [00:04:00] organizationally, it’s a heart and soul shift if we really want to see the world to be

Lesley Whitehead: Right. So what types of organizations do you work with?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: a wide variety. So, currently I, serve, for example, with a performing arts center, non for profit out of New York City R.Evolucion Latina. their motto is “dare to go beyond” and they are impacting adults and children and communities with the arts. And it’s founded and centered by voices that were Latina, Latino, uh, current artists and teachers, choreographers, directors, and just kind of giving them, you know, uh, support and advice around strategic, uh, planning and operations to keep that legacy going.

I also have recently worked with the Travis Manion Foundation, providing staff trainings around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. For their staff, and they’re a veteran serving organization. You’ll hear the phrase VSO, [00:05:00] the acronym VSO. So A VSO, uh, like them have taken me in by recommendation, interviewed, and have been able to provide some supportive work with their endeavors.

And they’re a national organization and, uh, that’s part of my role, uh, as a military spouse and, and grateful to have been recognized by, uh, them. I also, in the past year, in the past couple of years, have worked with the American Medical Association providing racial healing circles. These, uh, kind of diversity dialogue circles, spaces where folks of different backgrounds within a company or organization helping them go through the experience of two hours of kind, it ends up being community building and team building and grappling with what are our experiences when we talk about diversity and our own identities. I, um, have also worked with a lot of public libraries the last couple of years.

I was, uh, a keynote speaker a year ago at the Illinois Library Association, [00:06:00] and that introduced me to a number of libraries around the state of Illinois. So I’ve been honored to work with DeKalb Public Library, Prospect Heights Public Library, Carroll Stream, a couple of libraries that have said, hey, come in, can you do a workshop and, or have these conversations?

So I’ll do Some of those, uh, workshops as well. and I’ve done some coaching one on one folks who are at a leadership level, uh, leaders of color to, um, kind of support them because there’s this, uh, we call it racial battle fatigue, a tiredness that can come from kind of doing something for the cause for the good of society or for marginalized populations.

And so trying. You, do some guidance around self care and collective care and not, uh, exhausting yourself or tiring yourself out or even getting sick in, in your pursuit as a, as a leader, as a woman or a person of color and, um, I’ll pause right there. But there’s a number of, [00:07:00] you know, I’ve done curriculum because of Spanish helping folks.

Oh, here’s my other fun favorite. I still love being an educator. So I teach part time for, the National Autonomous University of Mexico as a Chicago

Lesley Whitehead: Oh, that’s

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: So, there’s a winter session and a summer session. And I’m just blessed to be able to meet these students who come from, uh, generally Mexico City. They are university students or ready professionals. They want advanced English, but I get to infuse Chicago history and U. S. history with a racial and, and diversity lens in telling maybe the not so beautiful part of our history, but it’s,

Lesley Whitehead: Right.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: And, uh, get the students to have some really deep conversations to see a little bit of what, uh, the U.S. and Chicago is like. So that’s one moment where I get to be, uh, an educator

Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic. I love that. Okay. I have a question about when you’re working with somebody one on one, what are some [00:08:00] things that you do to help them with this, overstimulation, this being tired, trying to explain everything or,  be in their space, what do you do for them? How do you help them with that?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: I’ve had the pleasure to work with, uh, some folks of color in, in those situations. And for me, I think having been a Latina raised in a predominantly white, um, community and going through public schools all the way through my university education, I wasn’t always exposed to what, the truth and history was of my ancestors or people or communities like, uh, my community.

And my family from Mexico has been in Chicago for a hundred years, but it wasn’t always to me that way, but working with leaders that might be leaders of color one is, is kind of finding out maybe a grounding of their understanding of history and culture and their ancestors, because it’s a beautiful place of strength that I have found is [00:09:00] getting that awareness. Then drawing strength from, I mean, you know, Frida Kahlo has been embraced by non Mexican and non, you know, Latino, uh, and Latinos around the world, but being able to find little parts of maybe somebody’s history or community that is, uh, and allow somebody to find pride in that. I also find out if they’re a reader, are they a video watcher, are they a podcaster, and giving recommendations for different ways that we can find that inspiration.

Also getting away from what, what sometimes gets labeled as, as, as the white predominant culture of self care. Like you think a day at the spa or an hour of massage and that’s it. But that, that’s not it. A lot of communities of color and even leaders then it was a balanced way and it’s collective care.

So what are the ways that we can be in community? you know for you and I here today if we were meeting at my house It would be let’s spend 30 minutes on a meal before we start this interview or an [00:10:00] hour or two hour like time and finding those ways that it’s okay to take parts that maybe you remember as As a young person that were a part of your family or community or neighbors and bringing them into your leadership and finding healthy ways, but meditation, mindfulness is across so many cultures.

There’s different ways that cultures of all backgrounds have, uh, used a way of solace or reflection, if it’s with nature, if it’s, you know, bathing or something, then I think that that’s a really key part too to help people, uh, do that. And, given awareness that I lost my mother to cancer and that I cared for her for seven years.

And one thing for sure with, with anybody, doesn’t matter what race or gender identity you have. But folks who get too obsessed with giving to the work don’t really always understand that a month after you’re out of that job with less [00:11:00] than a month, it’s going to be posted. You are not that one position.

You, the company, the organization needs to go on. So it is not the Lesley Whitehead job. you might be working in that position. So when I work with, um, coaching folks is going, you know, what, what do you really want and are, are you getting that? Do you, you know, people reframing how much we’re giving to something, to, uh, an organization that really will find you, they might value who you are right then.

But they will have to move on without you. So are you giving to yourself? Are you giving to the people who love you? my dad was, uh, uh, was white Anglo. Um, both of my parents are gone, but he would say, you know, try to, even if you’re not making the big bucks, he goes, find a job that you’re going to feel, um, some balance and enjoyment because that carries with you back to your home environment, who that might be.

And if you’re a single person, don’t want [00:12:00] kids, don’t have a partner, don’t want a partner, that’s fine. But it’s in your peace and your balance and your happiness. Cause we literally just have today. And so when I work with folks, one on one, those are some of the things is, Finding out, you know, is it spirituality?

Is it a goal or purpose? You keep saying, you keep saying, Oh, I’ll do that in a couple of years or I’ll pursue that. Why are we waiting? Why are we delaying pursuing some things that really bring us joy.

Lesley Whitehead: Right. Now, you just brought up your mom, and I wanted to ask, how did being a caregiver to your mom during her battle with cancer influence your approach to life and work, especially in terms of resilience and compassion?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Just to sit a moment and, and, and just embrace that spirit of, maybe a loved one that has gone on. I believe very deeply that our ancestors are still, uh, around, you know, I think they send a signal. So, those caregiving [00:13:00] years taught me so much. So first of all, I have to say, I’m not the first entrepreneur in the family.

For a while, I was like going to all these workshops and thinking I was, but I’m like, Oh, Wait up, hold on, hold on a minute. My mother became a, you know, a hairstylist and even just to cut our hair. She was a seamstress. She would make our clothes and I think she was maybe bartering and selling with friends.

She was a Mary Kay consultant. So things that I’m like, hello, you were not first, your mother was doing this. Right. Um, so I have to give all respect and honor to that. but those years, taught me resiliency and the balance one, the confidentiality with being her caregiver when her asking me and confidence, like I trust you and the importance of that.

And please don’t share my story without my permission. And I’m a professional storyteller and what I do on a stage or in a workshop. And knowing that we have to have that permission because that is people’s [00:14:00] lives. That’s their story. That’s their trust And I then that vulnerability that I will model and I will do those years taught me that how to have these deep conversations and deep listening I was just totally primed the two storyteller and kind of comedian at home parents I had My dad was gone for over 20 years when my mom got ill.

She was a widow a long time. So working so closely with her and being relentless in my research and investigation in, finding answers in the healthcare system. Well, that taught me like my note taking. So what I do as a consultant, what I continue to do as a research, when I approach a project as a writer, um, and storyteller is, The note taking and my mom was a secretary her whole life and, uh, those caregiving years taught me to, you know, remember what I saw her doing in her professional life, transferring that in my caregiving years with her, she and I sharing notes and collaborating [00:15:00] on her care, but getting permission saying, mom, is it okay if I do this?

And when we work with marginalized folks, we work with folks who have been traumatized or oppressed or, or done wrong or, or for me as a survivor of domestic violence, you don’t want to just take the mic because you just assume you need to, you want to ask those folks and, and try to still get them, um, you know, in the room, in the space, to tell, but if they’re too tired and recognizing for myself as a caregiver, Those caregiver years is rest.

And I have a book club. We’re about to cover Rest Is Resistance. Amazing book and it is like my mom, you know, close your eyes. I’m resting, resting my eyes and remembering like. She did that before she got sick and that is okay. And we need to do those things and normalize it. So the caregiving years I had a young child, a baby,and an infant and I’m a survivor.

[00:16:00] I’m dealing with things in the courts and orders of protection. And I’m looking after my mom going to doctor’s appointments. But we never lost humor. We would be cracking up in a consult room. Nurses would want to come by and find out. And we’re talking to oncologists and those caregiving gears in my mom’s way of, of like handling going, Hey, we’re given today.

How much joy can I still bring in? Pause and close your eyes. If we have to, we’d get to the car in the parking lot and just both kind of babies asleep. Okay. Let’s just both take a minute because I knew I had to drive in Chicago traffic, for example. So those little things going, Wait, really? We’re taking a nap in this parking lot?

Yes. We’re going to take 15 minutes to close our eyes. We’re both tired. We’re going to rest. Right? So those are some little things that have fed into that. If I overschedule myself. In a day that I feel exhausted, then I look at that respectfully, write to somebody and say, can we reschedule this a day or two?

Cause I need to listen to my body. And that’s the thing. I think cancer [00:17:00] is connected to stress and these things that so many times we as women, as, nurturers and caregivers, we take on the weight of the world and, and our families, we need to listen to our bodies more in those years of, of, uh, supporting her.

Last thing, the importance of, having a plan and that loving care, the importance of paperwork and, your note taking, but what is your, you know, your business legacy? Do you have the right paperwork? What is your home legacy and your family legacy? you know, have a clear mind plan, talk to the right people and, and be as organized as you

Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. Now how do you infuse your bilingual and bicultural background into your consulting work, particularly in advocating for diversity, inclusion, and racial healing? Okay.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Yes. Yes. Oh, so beautiful. So, All Latinas and Latinos or Hispanics were not born speaking Spanish and I’m one of [00:18:00] them. and there’s an assumption that we all, we all do and, and, and it’s funny, you know, being asked, you speak Mexican and that’s not quite the language. And we all love Taco Tuesday, but we don’t always want to hear the language.

But I started studying Spanish in high school and I fell in love with, uh, the language. And went to college and got a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. I have ended up using Spanish in probably 98 percent of my professional, uh, experiences, whether that be over 50 percent actually in the, In the duties or facilitating the work I was doing, but that other percent is that it’s building rapport.

If there’s somebody in the community, somebody in the audience, somebody that’s their language, they feel more comfortable than that. That gives me a ground to meet them where they’re at, especially when I’m talking about heavy emotional stuff or, [00:19:00] big, you know, world world changing, you know, let’s make the world more inclusive.

And sometimes people want to go to a native language, but it’s allowed me to do talks. I’ve been invited to universities in Mexico to give talks. So I was a young person studying a semester abroad, and now I’ve been able to go back to that university and be an invited professional. And that’s just like, wow, you know, I can, I can go to the grave. Uh, To know that my Spanish got that good. I taught Spanish, but you know, and I love this. There was a bumper sticker I got at a language conference when I was teaching high school Spanish. Monolingualism can be cured. Like we all can learn another language

Lesley Whitehead: so intimidating, though. I’m not gonna lie. It really is.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: it is. But then do we keep telling ourselves that story? What is the story we’re telling ourselves? And so, now, I have all kinds of tips for the audience, you know, what, what, what are ways that we can incorporate, you know, language or exposing ourselves to? to [00:20:00] uh, other languages.

But what I have to say is this. When you have another language and what I realize is it opened me up to all of Latin America. I’ve traveled to over half of Latin America and all those stories and lives and folks that I got to meet cultures I got exposed to that I got to hear in that language.

Then the work that I do, my travels help me illuminate more. It gives me more examples to let people know this is a global communicating world. If we really understand, yes, there’s lots of tools now. but being able to draw on the language. But it’s not just language. You have to understand the cultural practices.

Sometimes you have to be able to open yourself to questioning. What does that mean? And some words don’t have translations. You find out with Spanish being bilingual, actually some words are indigenous words. Words that, you know, we, we think, Oh, it’s Spanish. No, avocado is, aguacate in Spanish is a native [00:21:00] word.

It comes from the Aztecs. It’s náhuatl. Who loves avocado on toast? Well, you’re eating indigenous, indigenous food. Tomatoes. Can you imagine? Tomate. That is from Mesoamerica.

Lesley Whitehead: Oh,

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: That is an indigenous word. A hammock. Who loves their hammock in their backyard? That comes from the Taino Indians. These are indigenous, native languages.

So all those things allow me to, you know, try to connect some pieces of what are, what, what, what I’m able to do. And say, here’s an example. This story was not told, this history was not told by quote unquote the victor. You know, this is what we need to know and give honor and risk. cultures that, um, and, and languages that things may come from.

And there’s, there’s this beautiful phrase in Spanish that says, Oh, and means I hope, or like I’m hopeful. And you learn all this grammar behind how to use that phrase. But it comes supposedly from Arabic, from the 800 years of, of, of Muslim rule from the Moroccans that entered [00:22:00] Spain. And we’re not taught these things.

I wasn’t even taught that in Spanish class. You’re just taught a phrase, not taught that there’s these cultural and historical origins. How language, uh, influences. So it very much illuminates, it helps open up, you know, conversations, really rich things that we can talk about. It spears into food, it spears into holiday, to music, into things.

Because I did, I committed a lot of time and I continue to dedicate, it’s been over four decades of continually going at this language you know, Spanish and I, and I got French, I, you know, did a little Portuguese, a little Italian, uh, because of the romance languages. But, um, I hope it makes me a better person, more open as a consultant, as a professional and I’ve been able to stand in front of audiences and give an hour presentation about what domestic violence is in Spanish and, and help women, uh, who are, uh, Monolingual Spanish speaking [00:23:00] in a situation to to be able to label their world that they didn’t know how to label or, um, didn’t know a story like mine and being able to do that in a language that they could receive and feel safe to come up to me.

That’s everything, you know, again, put it on my, my, my, my headstone that, you know, I, I’m like, okay, I did it. I helped somebody in, in their language. And that was my, I just was super curious about the language and I’m glad I reclaimed it. The colonizer’s language was lost in my family. My grandmother was beaten.

I mean, she died at 99 She moved to the States and she was three back and forth till she was six went to Catholic schools And she told me stories the nuns Would beat her because she was speaking Spanish as a little girl and she was told go home and tell your your parents and your Grandparents to speak English you teach them and so when a language and this is that’s an Italian story.

That’s an Irish story That’s so many immigrants in the world story and still today’s stories, you [00:24:00] know, Indian boarding schools, this beating language and culture out of people, obviously it’s, it’s not, you know, that’s not humane and we shouldn’t have done that. So we’re still healing. That’s where it connects to the racial healing is that sometimes the shame that people who had another language from their family, and I help to normalize that and go, Hey, You know, let’s talk about that pain.

I’m carrying the pain that my grandmother had. I got so good at Spanish, Lesley, I shamed my grandmother. She stopped writing to me and stopped talking to me. Once my Spanish got so professional, probably four years, she’s like, it’s too good now. She said, my Spanish is country Spanish. She refused to talk to me.

Lesley Whitehead: Oh, no. 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: But then it’s like, that informs me going into spaces when people are nervous learning English, if it is, you know, our immigrant population or whatnot going, how do we receive this? What are the stereotypes we have about people with accents who have been, you know, in this country or moved [00:25:00] to this country, um, or when we’re abroad?

So as a military family, sometimes you’re abroad or, or, or things like that. So just thinking about, you know, language and compassion and, and what are our assumptions? So great question. Thanks for

Lesley Whitehead: I, um, I feel like people who speak more than like one language are geniuses, frankly, because as I mentioned, I’m intimidated by it, but it is one of my goals is to speak Spanish. So, um, you are motivating me even more to get going and I’m sure that you will give me lots of tips as to what to do next with that.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: absolutely. I would say I do, yeah, I do some tutoring, private

Lesley Whitehead: Oh, there you go.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: that, or we can get a conversational space going on. I’d be happy to do that 

Lesley Whitehead: be wonderful. Thank you. But I want to ask, and this is along the lines of what we were just talking about. 

How do you incorporate the themes of racial healing and empowerment into your retreat offerings, especially for women of color? 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: this is an area of growth in my, in [00:26:00] my business that I want to host independently. I have hosted retreats, working as a facilitator for some organizations. super excited. I have one, uh, coming up next week for an organization centering around like, uh, Connecting, team building and how to do that.

But in that I understand and the diverse society that we are is that there’s diversity in there. And what are the aspects of racial healing that I need to consider? Especially. To support, uh, clients and, and, and individuals that maybe don’t know, you know, and it’s so fun to go into an organization like, here’s some long timers, here’s some new people and everybody, and then everybody has their story.

And how do you help do that? Well, racial healing is about the human connection. It’s based in deep listening. It’s based in understanding that you can listen to somebody else. And, and we say you empty your heart, you kind of pour out but my job is creating that safe space. So [00:27:00] my dream though, is to start, uh, uh, hosting retreats, destination or local area for, for diverse women, women of all backgrounds, maybe do some, you know, special, uh, communities.

These are moms. These are, you know, you don’t have to be a mom or. Uh, here’s all Latinas. I’ve done racial healing circles, uh, virtually for, since the pandemic and hosted like all Latina space. But here’s, you know, mixed women’s space, but retreats. It’s such a fun thing that I remember over my lifetime going to a retreat and feeling.

So rejuvenated and connected But I was oftentimes the only Latina. And so then there was still my, I was still holding myself back from fully telling my story or being vulnerable, fully being completely authentic. I was enjoying myself and I would, you know, bring my, bring my jokes and compassion and, and listen, listen, listen, support, support, and, [00:28:00] and just do the writing.

But I never wanted to always speak up. But I think that’s my goal is to be able to host some retreats. And so if, you know, there’s folks in, your community want to start doing that. I’m excited to team up with some other women entrepreneurs who, you know, yoga and, you know, mindfulness things that I’m doing, but I’m not the expert.

I do it. I practice some, but I want to team up with folks. To do this and crafting and doing storytelling, doing journaling, doing pairing, how do we build trust within ourselves and with each other and create little communities that, we sometimes as, as women of color think that. white women won’t understand us, but I think that that is, you know, that’s false.

And I’m bicultural. I had a white father and a Mexican mother. So I have like always been living these two worlds, always received as a woman of color. One, and I don’t hide my identity, but [00:29:00] I was Heather Hathaway and people are like, Well, what are you? And I’ve been asked everything under the sun trying to fix, you know, I don’t fit in their phenotype, you know, what do you look like?

You know, wait a minute. Are you Brazilian? Are you Jewish? Are you Italian? Are you this? And looking looking right that happened to my mother and happened to me my lifetime, but I think being able to offer some retreats It will be fun. People have been asking me and so i’m in the plans Maybe some international destinations and across the u. s And then the midwest and and like I said, right right even if it’s just a four hour Day, you know half a day locally Um I am so excited because I’ve had clients who are non for profit organizations who have hired me to do, like I was saying in New York, another organization did a day like summit.

So it was kind of a retreat idea, but with national dance Latino leaders. And I was so grateful to be called in as an outsider, but an insider as a Latina, I’m not a dancer or dance [00:30:00] administrator,

Lesley Whitehead: you love to dance.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: I love to dance. I’ve never, yeah, worked. I’ve never been on a stage of dance. Um, but Ballet Hispánico and being able to bring that in and going here, we’re going to do some activities.

So I draw, I, you know, I bring in the racial healing things that I did that were worked in classrooms. Cause I’ve talked, you know, community college, more university courses for, for high schools, bringing in little, little ways because we don’t all receive and think and operate in the same way in racial healing.

One of my, I forget, I wish I knew who it was, but in a co facilitator, we said, they said, some of us are microwave thinkers and speakers and some of us are crackpot or slow cooker thinkers and speakers. And that’s what I knew. I know that variance, but sometimes the pain is so deep on what’s happened to us.

With racism, with oppression, with marginalization that we have to kind of present different things. And that’s [00:31:00] what I hope to do is healing spaces, spaces where women could come back to me that we can host. We can have some that are continuance, some that are, you know, first time one and done. There’s just something I hope to build that can, uh, you know, serve for those who are looking for that kind of authentic connection and, uh, ready to show up fully themselves.

Lesley Whitehead: that. I love that idea. Okay. I want to ask, what memorable moments from your travels have influenced your perspective and approach to your work, particularly in advocating for social justice and empowerment?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Wow. Oh my gosh. Let me, let me think. Okay. Um, Whoo. Okay. I’m going to give two examples real quick and I don’t know, these are just, these are just fun travel stories and how does this help us frame, What we have as an experience, um, you know, maybe in, in the United States, but for me, so when I went to Mexico to meet my family, they are [00:32:00] farmers.

They live in a small town and my great uncle was, he, he recently passed, but my great uncle and his wife, they had two, two young boys. They’re the ones who. Who took, you know, took me in. So it was my first trip and I wanted to ride a horse with another cousin. And in my very limited Spanish, cause I, it was sketchy to try to speak every day in Spanish.

You can speak an hour in Spanish class, but to go and speak Spanish. So I’m trying to communicate that I want to get on the horse and I’m thinking he’s not understanding me. And so I’m like, Oh man, this is before cell phones. So I’m like using my little hand dictionary, like what am I not saying? And then I let him know I have insurance.

And I let him know I rode a horse before and he’s just like, no, no, no, I owe your grandmother I hear him telling me I promised which is his sister in law, right? I was like what’s going on? So finally at this point I spent twenty dollars to use the only telephone in town, which is in his living room To call my mother long distance, mind you, I’m 23 years old.[00:33:00] 

And I was like, mom, I need you to quickly tell uncle Tio that it’s okay that I ride this horse. I think he doesn’t understand, but he’s going, no, no, no. Grandma, grandma, this. So she and her broke up in Spanish. Cause she was not taught Spanish, but she said, you know, horse. Yes. Tio. Ana. It’s okay. Using my middle name.

And then he finally relented and let me. Well, I later come to find the story is this belief that women don’t ride horses because 10 or 15 years before that, a horse threw a woman. She fell off. She hit her head on a rock and she passed 

away. This is the, the, the legend, right? Or the story. And here I’m this very, very American, you know, I, I can do whatever

Lesley Whitehead: Bold 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: 23. I graduated from college. Like I got this. Right? No, you have to humble yourself and understand the cultural rules and [00:34:00] stories. So I think, you know, knowing that. You walk into a space even as a consultant. I walk in there’s a dynamic of that community that organization are those people that team I I don’t get to just come in and go.

Hi. I’m the expert. I need to build rapport. I need to listen to you. I need to involve you You all are the expert on what you’re doing. I come in as a team member and an additional temporary team member. And so that’s one story from I think, you know thinking about and It just illuminates what are the limitations because that story was Mexico, but that story is, there’s limitations like that for women in our backyard and how do we still keep, you know, breaking through, um, and you know, building our own structures, building our own tables because sorry guys, you’re not always like trying to, you know, let us in.

Well, screw it. We’ll stay standing and we’ll keep, we’ll keep gabbing away and we’ll do what we need to do. 

So the other one that I think is just kind [00:35:00] of, um, interesting was a story in Bolivia. I’m traveling around Bolivia and, um, with a friend and we’re taking a bus between one major city and another major city.

city that you go up over like a mountain ridge. Well, there was, uh, minors were protesting and they’re protesting at the government, but they put a roadblock and it was over 24 hours. We’re stuck at this roadblock and the indigenous, uh, local people in Bolivia are very, you know, highly indigenous, women.

Within hours they are set up with their food cards. They’re like taking advantage of, of making some money and making some food and making business and selling toilet paper. You got to get out there and pee. You know, they wear big skirts and all their peeing on the side of the road. It was phenomenal to see how quickly they organized and we’re there just waiting.

And in the respect [00:36:00] of people have a voice, these folks needed to be listened to. So we’re giving word, the government, the president, they want to talk to the president. The president sends the secretary. No, we want the president. And finally we got released to go through, but I have photos from that moment.

We’re freezing because you’re up behind the mountains that night sleeping. We’re like all in this. bus at night, but you would just step out. Okay. We got a little bit of money, but just thinking like these moments was so impactful because it was dangerous. They’re blowing off dynamite of, of tires. So they had rubber tires from trucks or whatever.

That’s how they built this big block, but then they would put some to the side and they would blow them off. And. They know dynamite because they were miners. They were working in the mine. So, but still it’s really alarming because I’d never experienced that in the U S this is before the pandemic, this is before some major kind of, you know, riots and things that I, I’ve been exposed to in the United States.

But I, would say those, those are two things from my, you know, my travel is just going, [00:37:00] wow, what is the story? And, how do you bring somebody’s emotions down? They want to be

listened to. Those folks wanted to be listened to. They wanted jobs back. They wanted whatever it was, but they wanted, you know, FaceTime with the right person.

It wasn’t just, Hey, let me just send a memo. No, they wanted face to FaceTime with somebody and they definitely had demands and, and. Sometimes that’s how you change the world or change a policy or change your neighborhood, is rising up, linking arms and doing something. But those are two, two beautiful moments, uh, related to, to 

Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. That’s really powerful. So can you, here’s another one. Can you share a success story or impactful moment where your presentations have made a meaningful difference in the lives of women of color or marginalized communities? 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: There’s this, uh, young lady, She was in the [00:38:00] audience as a mother at this elementary school that  I was able to give a presentation in Spanish about domestic violence. And it was through like the parent group. And it really was a mom’s group. In Chicago on the South side, my colleague and, and, and dear friend Oriana was the lead director of, I think, bilingual services in the school and we linked up to, to offer this and.

I had built, uh, this presentation that I had done a couple months before, a year before at a medical school to talk to medical students about being a better advocate because I failed in the medical space about telling my story and not getting help when I was pregnant. And so I reworked it, put it in Spanish and I tell it to the space.

And these moms would come in an hour, they would have some food for them. I think her child was just in kindergarten. So I just had them [00:39:00] in this half day time and I did the whole presentation. And after a somewhat educational and personal narrative. Explaining, here’s the definition, this is how it happened to me, doing it again, and, and just kind of educating, educating, just sharing, really not getting reactions, because they were doing some craft too, good moms, you know, this is their joint activity, which is good, and I, I do that as a, you know, I have people do things while you’re listening sometimes.

And she came up to me afterwards and I, it was the moment that I realized that by me having the courage and I get stronger every time I tell my truth in that story, she was not married if I remember correctly, but she was battling the situation with her child’s father. And I, you know, I gave her my number and I said, I’ll, you know, share some resources with you.

I think, you know, you would help from this. Fast forward, she got the help because she got the understanding, she got the [00:40:00] courage after having listened to me and, you know, months later and now years later, she has two more children. She’s married to a new partner, somebody she had met after she had some time and support on her own with her child and her parents Her life opened up to, to love and this relationship and she still keeps in touch with me, but I kept this quote from her that, um, that she called me her hero and to know that I can’t, you know, put, put me in the grave.

I’ve done, I’ve done something good for somebody to be able to have the courage to, to say, you know, what happened to me and I hope I continue to because. Speaking like in a medical school or something trying to tell there’s so much failing in our medical system around domestic violence and interpersonal violence and those front liners, they have a responsibility and a duty and ethical responsibility and duty.

And as a parent and myself getting hurt here or there, I’m at urgent care of an ER. [00:41:00] I’m not being asked the screening questions. but that was so amazing to, be that for her and, and we keep in touch. And, um, you know, it’s just so beautiful. She has two more babies, you know, it’s a new husband and her child looks like he’s thriving.

And that’s one of those moments to be like, Oh my goodness, I am making a difference. And I’m so grateful that a higher part of power and my ancestors have given me the strength. Cause I was super shy when I was little. I would not, I hated to get up and do speeches. I would 

Lesley Whitehead: it. 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: I was terrified.

So it was really funny. I became an educator and, and, you know, speak on stages in front of hundreds, you know, of people or thousand maybe even, and I get really teared up

Lesley Whitehead: Of course. 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: I’m so grateful to have literally, you know, play a part in saving, saving two people’s lives and I would, you know, I still, still, you know, always wonder like, [00:42:00] okay, these ex, uh, abusive partners is like a one in a thousand that really change and we see it over and over in the news.

So safety is not just in that moment in the getting out it’s, it’s forever. It’s really

Lesley Whitehead: Who was your hero? Who helped you get out?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Um,

Lesley Whitehead: you have anyone? I don’t.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Who’s my hero? That’s interesting. So, um, I would say who helped me was, um, having the strength of myself and an infant in my arms when I knew that, you know, I was, I was making the plans, you know, for over a year, but I had a miscarriage two years before my son was born.

So, I was very hyper aware of wanting a healthy pregnancy and knowing what I knew about stress and stress on the body and being a geriatric pregnancy. They tell you like, you know, later in life. Um, so really kind of holding on, but then when I was, um, [00:43:00] you know, uh, attacked the very last night, um, you know, with that partner and, uh, worried about the kidnapping that was threatened, how I, I was, uh, not to go into details, but, you know, violated physically and, and, you know, sexual attempt and was, you know, I got to be my hero for my child and this is it.

And having to go to the police, you know, the next day, um, but my mom was supportive, she, she knew, but she, I don’t know if she ever like read or like understood like all the things I’ve been, I did the 40 hour training, um, you know, DV certification and I know intellectually scholarly now. And I know personally what I know, cause I just dove into the research and reading and continue to do that so I can continue to help others.

But my mom, she’s, I just called her that next day. I was able to get my, um, abuser. to, uh, pass out because [00:44:00] he was intoxicated and not harm me and my child anymore that evening. And. He went off to work and I called my mom. I said, I need to bring the baby. I need to go to the police station.

And so in that moment, of course, my mom is a hero. She takes the baby. She knows I go to the police station, you know, always, you know, there’s a complicated relationship for, for some folks in, in my, you know, my greater community with the police. But, uh, oh my gosh, a great police station. You know, the department and an officer are really standing behind survivors and victims in the moment.

I’m so grateful. I’m grateful to that judge who put in an emergency order of protection because, um, you know, of the criminal charges that were submitted. And, um, so several little things, but I think the answer at the end is, I had to be for myself because if we don’t, you know, we don’t do like it’s when you are in, uh, in that situation, you have to rescue yourself.

You get information. That’s what I, that’s what I know is [00:45:00] planting seeds for positive change or transformative change. I plant the seed, you have to grow it, right? It’s, it’s in you and we each have to, you know, make the choice. My dad would always say, you can’t change anyone but yourself. And he became a recovered alcoholic.

He counseled for 15 or 13 years before his death and was sober, you know, over half of my life, which was great. He was happy, you know, drunk. Um, and I didn’t know what alcoholism was, but in the end you can’t change anyone but yourself. And so it’s a great question to say, you know, who is my hero, but looking at.

Looking at my nine month old baby, it was, you know, ripped from my arms and what I went through that horror that night. And saying, no, I I have to keep myself alive. I have to keep him alive. I have to keep him near me. And, um, I gotta get through this. And that’s where the power of the, the, the word, you know, uh, emotions and connecting and how I was able to negotiate what I was [00:46:00] experiencing and reading the energy and how do I get out of the situation.

and, help myself, but I couldn’t have done it without those, folks in the criminal system and the courts and the police station, my mom. and my little guy, he was, he was the influence for me to, do this. Cause who knows? And that’s what we have to stop doing is judging people who stay because you don’t know what it takes to get up.

It’s five to seven attempts on average to leave. So if you know somebody. You know, be patient, be there for them, you don’t label the person as abusive, you let them label them, but you say, Hey, I’m checking in on you, hey, I’m here for you, and you might be that hero phone call. I had some really good friends that, um, you know, were there for me and they knew.

Uh, I was trying to find a way to kick him out and get him out. but ultimately he had to do something criminally that helped me with the police doing their job to, to get him removed.

Lesley Whitehead: That’s an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. I know that wasn’t [00:47:00] easy. very, very brave of you. What I love about your story, though, too, is you have this other beautiful, it’s sort of the mirror image of what you were describing with this woman. Now you are married to this wonderful man. do you want to tell us a little bit about that, about being a part of that life? Because that’s a whole nother world, this experience,

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Yes. Yes. Um, wow. and I knew for, for years was let me work on myself. There was healing years I needed, you know, I’ve been, uh, in graduate school was work working on my, my 4. 0 and being a graduate student was a caregiver actively in those years. it was seven years I looked after my mom and, and then I became the survivor.

I was sole parenting, but I officially sole custody became the single mom. And I said, wow, I, you know, I need to, I need to heal. I need time for me. I need time to pour into my, my school, understand what I’ve [00:48:00] just lived these number of years, support my mom. And so I really was in this. space of happiness that I’m okay.

You know, I’m okay. I,  never agreed with the language of this is my better half. Like I’m incomplete. Like I don’t need another half to me. I’m a whole person. And I really embodied and walked that way. And I think because I was so different in a lot of my spaces, I was like, eh, I’m okay. It’s me.

I’m here. I’ll join you. But then I’ll also join these folks over here. I’ll also join these folks. So I was, you know, very fluid in the spaces. So I had a, I grew to kind of feel that I had enough, um, space. And then I kind of said to God or higher power, you know, you know, if, if somebody comes along, I’m open, but I’m happy with who I am.

I was considering, you know, adopting a child on my own, wanting to become a full time professor. Yeah. And, uh, live as many years with my mom nearby as I could and raise my son. But [00:49:00] then, um, saying that and being open to that contentment and I kinda like had laughed, you know, um, when it happens. So I have some longtime friends from college and a friend who has a birthday.

specifically on Mexican Independence Day. And so, uh, he threw tacos and a boxing party and I was like, sure, you know, Hey, I love tacos. I don’t really love boxing and go. And lo and behold, this mutual friend is where I met who is now my husband. And I wasn’t looking for it. And I think that that’s the beauty is sometimes there’s moments like, Oh gosh, I just can’t meet anybody.

I’m looking for somebody and just, where are they? And I’m hanging out at Home Depot or the hardware stores. And just like, Oh, am I open to this? And, um, cause I want a handyman right now. It was amazing because he too, you know, had had some horror, you know, horrible, uh, experiences in, in [00:50:00] dating and, and, and, uh, relationships and to get to, we weren’t looking for it.

We were literally almost the only two who didn’t know each other at this, at this party, shared friends party. And, uh, we became inseparable that night talking. We even did something. We both. Later, uh, confess we never do. We ended up karaoke ing with a couple of people that I never do that. And, um, after the boxing match and it was the universe, I think, you know, it was nine months.

It was so funny. I was talking with a friend, that’s the length of a pregnancy, right? Nine months after my mom died, I met this man. And so it was like, This kind of gestation of Heather, you are transitioning to being on your own. You’ve served your mother. Wow. You took care of her. You looked after her.

Right. And, and this transition to, okay, it’s you and little man. And then I meet. this, this amazing partner. And that very night he was like [00:51:00] firing out important questions. Like, had I been married in the church? And I’m like, no, uh, okay. He’s like, okay. Um, so you open to that? And I’m like, yeah. And would you ever consider that in Mexico?

And I’m like, yeah. Like, why is it? I’m like, no. And inside. And, um, you know, I remember telling a friend like a week later, I said. Mark my words. If you hear me say I’m going to get married, it’s gonna be this guy. But I know that I’ve told you I don’t need to marry. I’m fine. You know, I’m protecting myself financially, legally.

I’m okay. But the feeling I have about this person is so strong that I can’t believe I’m thinking about this the first week and I of course was more on guard. Being a sole custodial parent of my beautiful son who was five at the time and was very cautious about, you know, introducing him. But there was that personal [00:52:00] friend space and reference because I was getting on dating apps.

I don’t want no pedophiles like, Oh, you know, you have a child. No, no, no, thank you. I’ll be happy by myself with some books and a mountain vacation once a year. Like, Nope. I don’t mean no weirdo. So it was really, really, uh, shocking, but tacos had a role in it. And, but I think it is really settling my heart and knowing I felt peace, I felt as stable as I could for myself.

And I felt as healed as I could be to be open to creating. a new world and a new partnership. And we are both works in progress. You know, we are not by all means perfect, but we will work hard and we do work hard together. And he has over 30 years serving our nation in the army. Um, and it’s, it’s changed my world.

It’s changed my career. I thought I was going to be a professor. I’ve had [00:53:00] to pivot is this word, right? Pivot, pivot, pivot. They really use that with military families and spouses. You got to pivot. You got to pivot. Yeah, like every two to three years you got to pivot. Um, sometimes every, every other weekend you think you have plans and then the military needs that service member.

So it’s, it’s been beautiful. It’s a big adjustment, but, uh, I come from years or generations of service in my family, but nobody was a lifer like he’s been, um, you know, a lifer. So that’s, uh, that’s our 

Lesley Whitehead: I love that story. Thank you for sharing. So, because I want to ask this next question, in what ways do you support military spouses, families, and veterans through your business initiatives, drawing from your own experience as a military spouse?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: So it’s interesting, you know, becoming, becoming a military spouse later in life. I continually try to connect to military groups and military spouse, um, opportunities. [00:54:00] And there are so many wonderful experiences that I have had. But I also sometimes feel like the, the odd girl out, you know, that I’m like, I haven’t been doing this for two decades.

I had my own career. I have my own experiences. My husband was shocked to know I traveled more than him in the world. I’ve been to more countries. I was a selling point for him. He said. Um, so building this identity, embracing this identity and eventually, you know, he’ll be retired and then we will be, you know, a veteran family.

It’s been wonderful to seek out spaces that I can join to try to meet, uh, other military spouses nationwide. I’ve had some incredible, I’m going to name some organizations I’ve participated in. If it’s a little mini workshop or a longer fellowship or, or different spaces. But, uh, there’s one that is nationwide bunker labs.

That I was able to meet other veterans. I was the only [00:55:00] military spouse of entrepreneurs. I have participated another one through the dog tag bakery in Washington DC and Again meeting veterans and kind of, you know, hearing their voices and a few other military spouses 

And the USO is where I started my husband. I said, you, you’re, you’re at fault. You opened it up through the USO. I would start participating in virtual workshops and I continued to go into those spaces. I may not always make a lifelong friend, but it’s nice to be in that space. So what I have now, after I’ve been meeting some of those folks and there’s an organization called Blue Star Families.

That had a D. E. I. Fellowship and I met some incredible women of color that were the fellows there and those shout out to Tanya and Nicole and Kelly and Brittany and these women that were in that first cohort because military spouses, the world doesn’t know this are unemployed at [00:56:00] double the rate of our of our regular population because of the mobility and disruption.

I was in denial how much my career has been impacted about the, the disruption that happens, uh, I didn’t think I thought I could, you know, overcome it, but meeting them and being introduced into other veterans serving organizations. As a voice of somebody I’ve taught race and ethnicity and gender and sexuality and class in the classroom for over two decades.

And I’ve done research on national projects, even, you know, some international research that we’re looking at the intersection of identity. So those women, military spouses and veterans that can uplift, and sometimes it’s that introduction. So you’re, it’s this network. It’s beautiful, but that’s how I have been able to connect. I did some workshops for Blue Star Families, doing workshops for the Travis Manion Foundation.

And what I hope to do is to continue to be that [00:57:00] voice because as a Mexican American or Latino military family. Our experience in neighborhoods is not always the same. where we live in a predominantly white community in the Chicagoland area, I worry about my husband’s safety when he’s not in uniform.

He’s a dark, dark brown, dark skinned. Um, and, and being able to kind of show up, show up at conferences or workshops or meeting people, you know, LinkedIn and doing things that it’s a voice that we don’t always hear. Um, not all the officers are folks of color. So my husband is rare in that and being able to introduce people to, um, you know, his experience, um, I’m not promoting or, or denying, you know, I’m like, I’m not trying to say, do this.

I didn’t think I would end up in this space. I have a lot of respect for the service members from my family and those in our community, but there’s the real people stories, um, [00:58:00] whether it is on gender, whether it is on, you know, sexual orientation, whether it is, mixed couples and children, bicultural kids like me.

That are in military families. So I hope I can continue to help organizations that serve veterans work with government agencies that serve veterans and military families and spouses to understand it’s not a blanket term. We’re not all living the same racial, ethnic, or gender experience in the United States.

Because our country is not perfect, but even in military communities, you know, sometimes I don’t feel seen as a Latina woman who’s there. and I hope that I can continue to bring that in or the bilingual, you know, aspect that there are military families that have, uh, a spouse who’s international, born in another country. That’s another voice that our military kind of has some blanket terms or, you know, maybe down the line, you know, do some, you [00:59:00] know, policy advocacy. But I hope that my consulting can continue to, and, inspirational, motivational, I hope to hold retreats for those military spouses, you know, men and women.

That you’re feeling burnt out. Uh, I just hope that we can continue to see more diversity in, um, you know, the guest speakers and things that happen because it’s not a, a, a monolingual or mono, you know, cultural experience. When you say you put on a uniform, that whole family doesn’t have the same experience.

Um, So, and even me, there’s a lot of divorce in military families and service members. And so there’s those of us who are coming in. Hey, I’m the second and final spouse here. I say, Hey, this one’s going to work. We’re going to put everything, all the artillery we need into making this one work. No matter what the trauma, the PTSD, the, you know, deployments from the past.

Like. I have to try to understand that and support that. But are we talking about [01:00:00] those voices? Do we have a narrative to think, Oh, military family, that it’s always been a couple that’s been 20, 30 years together. And, uh, that’s not always the story. So I think normalizing conversations around divorce and, and domestic violence, as a survivor, didn’t happen with a partner in the service.

But there are spouses who, um, now, you know, are afraid to divorce because then where’s the protection from the government. They, the spouses, men or women have lost years of their professional career because of the disruption of service life. And then if a divorce happens, I’m very curious about cracking that open more, you know, uh, uh, survivors of, you know, sexual assault.

Uh, I don’t think we’re, we’re doing enough there. So I have, I have some, you know, goals and, and work, and I just hope to be in those spaces to, to continue to, to raise the question and, and bring the compassion and deep listening that I hope I can, because our, our, our military spaces and veteran [01:01:00] spaces don’t always want to hear that story.

Because again, they say pivot, you’re resilient, pivot, you’re resilient. What? It’s exhausting. You’re tired. You’re, you, you break down sometimes and we need to, and the, and the, and the service member breaks down. But do we, do we want to say that, you know, we’re trying to get around suicide awareness and prevention, normalizing.

Asking for help making it normal to say, you know, counseling is a good thing. It’s courageous. You know, so there’s a lot of branding around mental health and I hope to contribute to that as well.

Lesley Whitehead: I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity for you there. Like, I think you can bring a lot to that. area of focus. Definitely. That’s fantastic. All right. We, I have a couple more questions very quickly. One is, um, will you share some of the recognitions and awards you’ve received throughout your career and how do you feel they have affirmed your dedication to [01:02:00] advocacy and empowerment?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: I, I’ve, I’ve been blessed to receive a, a couple of, let me, my mind goes to, to three, uh, in the last couple of years. I’ll first start with, you know, home, homegrown. Again, I felt like a raisin in milk where I went to, uh, elementary school and junior high and high school. And if I remember correctly, There were about 20 of us who would be labeled Hispanic out of 3, 000 at my high school at the time of graduation, but I am so blessed to have been nominated and, and, and selected as a distinguished alumna of my high school last year.

Lesley Whitehead: Congratulations. That’s

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Thank you. So I haven’t visited, but supposedly my name and face and little bio is on the wall for students at the high school now to see that and I, and I’m going to make full circle. I chose a photo that

Lesley Whitehead: Oh, 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: me. So [01:03:00] my big curly, my big curly hair is that I want the curly haired kids to see because I didn’t get curly hair representation.

Um, and the, you know, Latino students, students of color, the young women, um, you know, those to see themselves. But that was shocking to be able to be validated because grunge work, you know, not for profit for three decades. I wasn’t getting a great salary, teaching, research, education, community work, organizing.

That doesn’t get all the love, but knowing my dedication, um, and that the committee saw fit to acknowledge my career, that was huge. And I, and again, I think I’m the first Latina or, or Hispanic at all to be recognized in that capacity. 

Another one, uh, there’s an organization called HACE Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, and they started a leadership program over, was it 15 years [01:04:00] ago?

And I was in like the second cohort for women. It’s called mujeres, uh, women in Spanish. And it was still, you know, gaining its grounding and stuff, but I was one of those early folks. It was at the time of, of turmoil for, for my life with, uh, my, my being in a, in an abusive relationship. But somehow I went to these like six sessions and just last year they celebrated that 15 years.

So they did a quinceanera, a sweet 15 in the Latino community. And I was selected as the one to represent my cohort. And that was beautiful just to see, be among these people. Polderosas we say, these powerful chingonas, these powerful Latina women, one, I mean, all of them, all of them who have finished this program.

They’ve gone nationwide now with this leadership of cultivating leadership so many times stereotypical in the Latino community where, you know, We’re, you know, [01:05:00] told to be humble and quiet and docile, but it was awesome. That was a beautiful recognition for, uh, again, my career and work. But the last one that comes to mind is my family in Mexico.

I told you the horse story. So this community is a small town in Mexico where my grandfather is from. And he came in the 1920s. He was born in 1907. So my meet on the family still a lot of extended family members, and they founded the community in 1931, the community. So he was born in another town and was brought over there as a young boy.

father did. So this community now has a celebration on the anniversary of the founding of the little farm town. so much for having me. And I was the first, like, they bring, they bring a distinguished, like, awardee, they do a little parade, they have a little princess, they do a big dance, they do a formal, like, [01:06:00] government, here’s the table at the elementary school, because it only has an elementary school, that’s how small it is.

You got to go somewhere else for junior high or high school and college. You go, you go away. But I thought my, my family was inviting me to just come to the party. And then it was about a month away. This is like, uh, right before the pandemic. Um, so 2019 and they’re like, so are you coming? And I said, well, I didn’t know.

They invited me as the distinguished guest. And so I have the certificate. Cause I was like, Oh, click. And cause they’re very casual how they were inviting me. They’re like, yeah, we want to recognize you for, and they know that I’ve been a professor. They know I teach at this Mexican university and I was blown away.

So out of, out of, you know, wonderful recognitions, but Again, not having been raised with Spanish, going to meet my family, going back and repeated visits to Mexico, trying to talk to the rabbit and the goat and the horse and the [01:07:00] kids and the elders, perfecting my Spanish. I was blown away that they saw me and my career at a distance.

For me to go down there, They call me a gringa, you know, this is, this is for them. This is what anybody from the States is a gringa. So I’m this white girl from the States, but they know I’m, um, you know, Mexican family. And I was so honored that these young men in charge of the committee and the community.

And then I, Got to give like this, you know, um, speech acceptance speech in Spanish on the spot. Cause I didn’t prepare anything. It was amazing. So that is a very special award recognition from, from afar, a small community to see that. Um, You know, cause they’re watching me on Facebook. They’re not on LinkedIn.

They’re watching me on Facebook. So it matters what we share. What are our wins? How do we, you know, you know, brag [01:08:00] bolder and brag bigger that it’s sharing. It’s sharing joy and accomplishments. So they were seeing all these years and they said, you know what? We want you to be the one that comes from outside because you’re doing us proud over there.

I’m two generations away. My mother was born in the States. You know, my grandfather’s the oldest of eight or oldest of 10 and they wanted me to come back down there. So to be honored where my grandfather is from, it blew my

Lesley Whitehead: That is a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing. 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Thank you. 

Lesley Whitehead: One last, well, two last questions. One is, um, what is something that they would be surprised to learn about you?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: They, the big they, you know, you know what they say, you know what they say about Heather Ana Heather Miranda. Well, um, so whoever the big they are, there’s two things that come to mind, but I’ll go, I’ll go with the first one. I [01:09:00] think, I think they, um, will be surprised to know, um, that my husband and I were honored and we got married on Good Morning America on ABC.

Lesley Whitehead: I know, I was hoping you were going to pick that because honestly, that’s a pretty big,

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda:

Lesley Whitehead: that’s a big 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: be surprised to know that, that we were a military couple honored, um, and Given a wedding of a lifetime experience is a TV wedding. Okay. There wasn’t dancing for 10 hours. Like we, we definitely do in our culture, but, um, it was phenomenal. And I’m so grateful, you know, shout out to Aaron and, and.

And, and, oh my gosh, the, all the producers and, and, and, and the hosts you know, my Michael, he was our, our pastor, people like, did he really marry you? And it was, it was amazing. And I never, there’s a long story behind it, but I never would have responded to [01:10:00] the questionnaire that spiraled it if I knew that that was behind it.

I’m not looking for attention for me and my story. I’m not looking for it for my husband and his service. But, it was a link through the USO. So shout out to them and a wonderful woman, Carrie, who, you know, took all the applications in. I just thought I was helping somebody tell my story to other military spouses.

I thought, yes, you know, there’s some of us in this space that we didn’t get to have An experience for, um, what happened to the world with the pandemic. So our, yeah, our wedding had been, uh, shut down two, two, it was going to be two weeks after we all shut down on St. Patrick’s day, um, and it was going to be, uh, two weeks later.

So to, to have fallen into an opportunity, and I guess we passed the interviews and the screening, and I think people would be surprised and you can Google it. It’s out there. It’s really,

Lesley Whitehead: [01:11:00] yeah. I was going to say, is it on YouTube? Can I watch it on YouTube? Okay.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: the ABC, ABC

Lesley Whitehead: I’m going to need to link that in the show notes. We need to see it.

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: It is amazing, but I don’t know why I have to, in fact, I need to ask the producers, I’m still in touch with, uh, one of them, um, and we’ve been trying to get together, but they didn’t put the, the whole, like a whole edited of the episode, they go up to the point, but they didn’t put the first dance. And there’s a very, very special first dance, um, artist.

It was so shocking. Um, but we were serenaded by Neo while we were dancing. But they didn’t put that on their clip. But somebody out there in the internet world did put a clip of us dancing and being sung to by Neo on Navy Pier in Chicago. So I think that’s the biggest shocker for people when they meet

Lesley Whitehead: I love that story. I can’t wait to read your memoir.[01:12:00] 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Oh, I’m working on it.


Lesley Whitehead: I know. And you know what, Heather? Wait, let me ask one other question very quickly because I don’t think I asked this in the beginning. How young are you?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Right. Oh, um, I’m, I’m as young, I’m as young as, as, as, as, as the wind and I’m as, I’m as young as, as the smile wrinkles on my face. I’m as young as these scrutinizing thought wrinkles on my forehead. I am 52 years young.

Lesley Whitehead: Thank you for sharing that. I am so grateful that you were here today and honestly, I could talk to you for hours. Let’s face it. So I would love to have you come back another time and we can dig into lots more. I know there’s so many things we didn’t even touch on that I wanted to touch on, but I just didn’t want to make this a two hour show.

We’re going to just 

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: do part one. 

Lesley Whitehead: So thank you. I am incredibly grateful for [01:13:00] how honest and transparent you were about everything you went through. And we are also grateful for you for being so bold and brave and sharing all the gifts you have and being so multi-passionate and sharing all of that with the world.

And we all look forward to seeing what’s next for you. And I will make sure that we have all the ways to connect with you, um, in the show notes, but will you share at this time how to connect with you the best ways to connect with you?

Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda: Oh, thank you. Um, yes, the easiest, I think check out my website. It’s, you know, uh, www Heather Hathaway Miranda. com. Um, but I’m on, uh, Facebook, Hathaway Miranda. Find my professional page, also Instagram Hathaway Miranda. You’ll find, uh, my Instagram page and LinkedIn of full Heather Hathaway Miranda on LinkedIn.

So. Any of those would [01:14:00] be wonderful to, um, connect and support and let’s change this world one heart, one heart print at a time.

Lesley Whitehead: Thank you, beautiful woman. You’re amazing. So grateful. Have a wonderful day. You too. Besos. Corazón. Oh, look…Hearts.

Lesley Whitehead: Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found this episode inspiring as well as entertaining. If you want more out of the box wisdom from boots on the ground, creative, brave women like this one, subscribe to Her Story So Far podcast wherever you listen, and please share this link with anyone who needs some inspiration. To receive more wisdom in your inbox, sign up for my weekly letter at lesleywhiteheadphotography.com.

Her Story So Far podcast is produced in [01:15:00] conjunction with mad talented executive producer K.O. Myers at Particulate Media. 

Thank you to all my beautiful bold guests, without them there would be no show.

Until next time, get out there and make yourself visible to the world. We need you and your creation. If no one has told you today, You Are beautiful.

Her Story So Far

Her Story So Far focuses on outside-the-box conversations with badass female creatives. These women are birthing amazing passion projects in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of their lives. Host Lesley Whitehead is an artist, visual storyteller and multi-passionate marketer. She believes age shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams or make you invisible to the world. Join us to be inspired by the wit, wisdom and one-of-a-kind experiences of these amazing women.

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Making the World Better One Stitch at a Time with Janet Avila, Owner of String Theory Yarn Company

Making the World Better One Stitch at a Time with Janet Avila, Owner of String Theory Yarn Company

April 10, 2024

Episode 006:

Making the World Better One Stitch at a Time with Janet Avila, Owner of String Theory Yarn Company


Welcome back to Her Story So Far! I am so in awe of my guest this time. After a life-altering tragedy, Janey Avila listened to her heart, summoned her courage, and opened a yarn store. Over the last 20 years, she’s helped untold numbers of new knitters fall in love with the craft and learn new skills, and used her business as a channel to build community around causes she believes in. Janet speaks about guiding a brick and mortar store through challenging times, and why it’s so important to lead with your values when making business decisions. I can’t wait for you to meet her!

About My Guest

About My Guest

Janet Avila is an artist, knitter, community builder, teacher philanthropist, fair trade supporter, and the owner of String Theory Yarn Company as well as a Coffee Farm in Columbia.


SUBSCRIBE!   Spotify | Apple | Pocket Casts | Podchaser


HSSF 006 – Janet S Avila

Lesley Whitehead: [00:00:00] Hi, beautiful. This is your host, Lesley Whitehead, and I am so excited to share this bold, brave, badass, creative woman with you. I hope our conversation inspires you not to let anything get in the way of your passion projects. I promise you, we need whatever is on your heart to create for this world. 

Hi, beautiful. I am happy to have Janet Avila in my studio today. She is the owner of String Theory Yarn Company, a community builder, a philanthropist, a fair trade supporter, and the list goes on and on and on, but we’re going to find out about her today. So, welcome Janet. 

Janet S. Avila: Thank you, it’s so fun to be here. 

Lesley Whitehead: I love your business so much. You are, you have a brick and mortar. It’s [00:01:00] located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and I have so many questions about it, but first and foremost, will you tell us how this business was created, how, um, it’s evolved, but first how it’s, how it was created.

Janet S. Avila: So we’d have to go back a while. Um, it was September in, um, 2001. And, um, I had just been laid off. I was working for Arthur Anderson. And that’s its own debacle. But before they went under, um, I was doing training and development for them. And, um, they laid off all their part time people. 

So I was laid off and, um, that my first Monday or something, I don’t remember what I did. And then it was Tuesday and I was like, okay, I’m ready to start my new life, figure out what I’m doing next. Um, and that was September 11th. And, um, I remember my husband [00:02:00] calling me and saying, um, you know, something happened in the World Trade Center. You got to watch this. And I’m like, oh, I can’t stand watching live cable TV of disasters cause they know nothing.

Um, so I tried to tune it out, but then my sister in law called and said, do you know your brother’s in New York? And so he was, um, killed that day. He was at the Trade Center at a conference on one of the top floors. 

Lesley Whitehead: I’m so sorry. 

Janet S. Avila: So yeah, sorry. Um, all these years later, it still gets me. 

Yeah, so obviously I had no job, and no brother, and lots of grieving going on. Um, couldn’t figure out what I was going to do. And what I did to get through that was knit. I just picked up my knitting needles and I couldn’t, I couldn’t sit still. Um, and which is unusual for me because it’s my favorite thing to do. Um, but I just couldn’t, I felt twitchy. I just was, yeah, it was, it was a bad time. 

[00:03:00] So I picked up my needles and that really centered me. That calmed me down. That made me feel, um, productive in a way that I couldn’t produce anything. Um, and really helped me work through the grief and the trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life and all of that.

Um, and as I did that, I started talking to some friends and, and saying, you know, more people should knit, they just should. Like, this is really good for you. And this was more than 20 years ago when that wasn’t a thing. Um, now everybody, there’s all these studies and it says, yeah, knitting’s really good for, you know, lowering blood pressure and, um, keeping your brain active and on and on and on the list goes. But back then it was just something that intuitively I knew. Um, and so I wanted more people to knit. 

And then the other thing that wasn’t enough, I, I do believe everything’s connected. And so, me having [00:04:00] more personal peace does help the world have more world peace. 

Lesley Whitehead: Mm hmm. 

Janet S. Avila: one of the unusual things I suppose that I believe, but, um, that wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to do more. Um, it was really a line in the sand of, okay, now what are you going to do with your life? Like now it really matters. Before it was like, oh, how am I going to keep busy and earn a living? No, it’s like, okay, let’s do something that really matters. 

So part of it was getting more people to knit cause I felt that would help world peace. But the other thing that I wanted to do was, uh, there were so many poor, desperate people in the world because I thought anybody who’s going to, um, drive a plane into a building, um, is desperate. Like, their lives are bad in the first place. Um, if they’re going to sacrifice themselves that way. And so I thought, you know, there’s a [00:05:00] lot of horrible things happening in the world, and very poor people and what can I do to help that?

And so when we, um, as the idea for the store came about and wanting more people to knit and I thought, you know, I’m going to have a budget. I’m going to be able to spend money that like, I can’t out of my personal account, like we can give away money, but we have limited funds. Um, but in a store, I’ve got a budget. And if I spend that budget on groups that are helping people all around the world, then that has some impact. That is, you know, that’s going to make a difference.

Um, and so that was the premise with which we set up the store, teaching people to knit and then filling the shelves with, um, yarns and supplies that helped people. And it was really healing for me as well, because, [00:06:00] to learn about all these groups and all these incredible people who are doing things, um, just because they felt called to. They found an opportunity. They thought, well, you know, if we do this, it’s going to help this group of women. Often it’s women. Um, and so that just continues to just make my day because there’s a lot of still horrible things happening in the world. But if you can focus on the people who are really making a difference to even if it’s a small group, that lightens my mood.

Lesley Whitehead: That’s wonderful. I mean, that’s a gift for everyone. And I know that you have raised funds, um, through your business. Do you have a number right now? I can’t remember what the number is.

Janet S. Avila: Yeah, and I’m so bad at details. Um, But this is, this is the, I love the idea, the strategy, the big stuff. And then you ask me a detail question, I’m like no! Um, but [00:07:00] I would, I pretty sure, like, for example, the scarf market that we do every year. Um, that’s our biggest, fundraiser. And that came about because we were all sitting around the table one day knitting and talking about the, um, unhoused humans who were on the streets in Glen Ellyn and what could we do about that. And somebody who’s like, well, we could knit him a scarf, but none of us, we’re all into natural fibers and not wanting to use acrylics and acrylic is obviously easiest to care for if you’re living on the street.

So we kind of had that, I don’t know. And then we were like, you know what, we could make scarves for people who have money and get them to buy those scarves. And then we could take that money and give them to organizations that are helping these people on the street. So that’s how it started. That’s what we’ve done.

Um, and we, through that, we pick a [00:08:00] different charity every year. Um, always local, always to do with some aspect of being unhoused and, um, we’ve raised at least fifty thousand dollars that way. 

Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic. I love that. Let me go back for a minute though because I didn’t ask this question. how young are you?

Janet S. Avila: I just turned 63.

Lesley Whitehead: Congratulations, happy birthday. I saw that was just the other day. Yes.

Janet S. Avila: It was.

Lesley Whitehead: And also when and how did you start knitting? I don’t know that story either. 

Janet S. Avila: Well that’s an Interesting thing because I don’t really know either. I don’t remember. I don’t remember learning to knit. Um, I assumed, we come from a very crafty family. Uh, we grew up doing all the things and you just went from one thing to the next. And, you know, I was, in middle school I made macrame bracelets and sold them. Um, my dad made [00:09:00] jewelry and sold them. My mom did sewing and applique. And, that’s just how we amused ourselves in the summertime. It was just what we did. 

But I do remember somebody asking me that question when I first opened the store and I just assumed my grandmother knit a lot. And I thought my mom was more of a sewer,

Lesley Whitehead: mm

Janet S. Avila: she would make my school clothes and do all this stuff. And, um, but my grandmother knit a lot, so I just assumed that she had taught me. And so somebody asked me that question. I said, well, I think it was my grandmother. And my mom just spoke right up. She was sitting there. She goes, it was me. 

Oh, okay. I didn’t know you knew how to knit. Um, cause she just hadn’t, she did, she knits a lot now, but she just hadn’t for a long time. Um, she says that it was one day when I was home sick from school and she was trying to figure out, you know, something to do with me. 

Lesley Whitehead: Keep you busy. 

Janet S. Avila: She taught how to knit. 

Lesley Whitehead: That’s great. So you’ve been able to continue this business for 20 years. [00:10:00] What has kept you going? What has, you know, brick and mortar is very difficult, and certainly over COVID, um, what has been able to help you, you know, continue with the business and keep it so successful.

Janet S. Avila: There’s a lot of things, but I think basically we started out um, building a community. That was our, you know, goal. You can be knitting, it can be a very individual, isolated activity you can do by yourself. But we had a purpose that was greater than our just knitting. And so we really worked hard to build a community and that community has sustained us, um, through the years. 

I mean, a lot of things have changed. Um, our customers, I mean, customers come and go, um, yarn companies come and go. Um, so, but I just think it was that community. And when we had to close our doors during [00:11:00] COVID. That was very scary. But the community just rallied and was like, okay, what do you need? I’m like, uh, money, basically. 

Um, and so we figured out and, and it was during COVID that I did so many things that I swore I would never do. Because people kept saying, oh, you need a website. You need to sell stuff on your website. Um, people from our community would move away and then they’d be like, I want to buy stuff, how am I going to do that? Or people would hear our story and go, oh, I just want to support what you’re doing, but I can’t do that from California or wherever it was. And I’m like, you want me to take a picture of every single skein of yarn in store and put it online? Are you crazy? Like, where is the joy in that? 

Lesley Whitehead: And, and quite honestly, that’s a second business. I mean, that’s a brick and mortar’s one business, an online business, it’s like having two [00:12:00] businesses. It is.

Janet S. Avila: Exactly. But we had no choice. Like we couldn’t let people in the store. I was like, Oh, I guess we’re doing a website now. And I remember I worked with a guy in Pakistan and this was crazy because he also was in lockdown because of COVID. I mean, it really drove home how global this was. And he would be complaining because he’d be talking to me and his whole family was locked up with him, and his sister would be, you know, running the blender trying to make smoothies and then he couldn’t talk to me.

It’s just like, I just felt this connection to, you know, everybody. But we did end up putting a website together. We did end up doing online classes, which was another thing. I’d come from training. I was like, okay, we can keep people company. I read people’s stories. I was thinking this the other day, we did a, um, zoom call where all I did was read kids books, [00:13:00] about, you know, had something to do with yarn or knitting. And I was like, okay, all, all you adults out there, get out your knitting. I’m going to entertain your kids for 20 minutes.

Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic.

Janet S. Avila: It was crazy the things that we did just to keep a connection with somebody. But one of my instructors said, well, we can do classes. And I was like, yeah, no, we can keep people company, but we’re not gonna be able to teach them anything. And they’re like, you watch. Like, okay. And they did. 

And now our online classes are even more popular than our in person classes. Because we use two cameras. So we’ve got one camera on the hands and one on the face and you get a perspective that you wouldn’t get even, you know, being in the same room with somebody. Um, there’s a lot of disadvantages as well, but, um, it, there’s enough advantages that we have kept going with, um, the online classes as well. So it’s those things, those new, you know, in a way we were forced to.

Lesley Whitehead: Right.[00:14:00] 

Janet S. Avila: The innovations, the moving, the adjusting, the, okay, now, how, how, now how we build community online? Um, which my kids, you know, I’m of the generation. I’m like, really? You can make friends that you’ve never met in person. My kids are like, well, of course, like, really?

Lesley Whitehead: And then you can meet them in person. 

Janet S. Avila: Right. Exactly.

Lesley Whitehead: Right.

Janet S. Avila: Eventually they show up.

Lesley Whitehead: I love that. And I have to, I have to tell you, your website is beautiful. it is a beautiful reflection of your business. Um, it’s very user friendly and it has a lot of great information. I just saw one blog post about, um, how do you fix your drop stitches um blog post, because I’m a new knitter as you know and um my first knitting project it looks like I should add buttons to it, it has so many drop stitches. Just to make it a creative piece.

Janet S. Avila: Exactly. [00:15:00] Design elements all over. 

Lesley Whitehead: Design elements, exactly. That’s exactly it. So, the other question I have is, um, where do your teachers come from? Because I know you, obviously you have staff inside that teach, but you also have teachers from all over. Tell me about that.

Janet S. Avila: We do. So there’s, during COVID all the people that, um, would travel and teach knitting were no longer traveling and teaching knitting. They, some of them just stopped and others of them figured out how to use Zoom effectively for teaching. And so that opened up a whole new avenue of access, because prior to that, we would have instructors come into String Theory, but it was very expensive, you know, paying for their airfare and their time and their lodging and food while they’re here and all of that. And usually a space that’s big enough to hold a large group of people so that we could afford all that. 

And [00:16:00] you know, there’s magic in in person classes. I won’t deny it. There’s just definitely something about the creative spark that

Lesley Whitehead: Mm hmm.

Janet S. Avila: unites all these people in a room. But when we couldn’t do that, we were like, okay, well, let’s see what we can do online. And so now we can get a lot, we have a lot more access. So before maybe we’d get to what we would call celebrity instructors to come in a year, and that would be a big deal. And now, um, every month we have access to somebody who’s teaching us 

Lesley Whitehead: I love it. 

Janet S. Avila: something. 

And some people are better at it than others, as you can imagine. So we vet, we’re really, meticulous, I think, and vetting people and making sure that they can actually teach something. Cause as I said before, that’s really important to me, and people learn, you know, if they’re going to pay money we want them to learn things. Um, and so we’ve vetted. Cause there’s, yeah, there’s people who are very good at, at teaching and there’s people who are very good at teaching online and those are the people that we want. 

Lesley Whitehead: Right. [00:17:00] Right. I love that. One of your, um, teachers is listed as craftivism. That’s not, did I pronounce that correctly? Craftivism? Can you explain that to me? 

Janet S. Avila: We just had this class on Sunday and it was so cool. This was, we were reminiscing, so this was the first class that we did on Zoom in COVID. Um, she was supposed to come in personally and she couldn’t and we were like, okay, let’s try this. And her whole thing is craftivism. 

And she taught a little bit of the history of craftivism. So it could be anything from a lot of people have heard of yarn bombing. 

Lesley Whitehead: I don’t know what that is. 

Janet S. Avila: Oh, okay. Let me tell you then. So yarn bombing is, um, if you take something and you cover it with knitting. So it could be, um, a couple of years ago, we yarn bombed the tree out in front of our store. [00:18:00] with like a pride flag of, but it was all knitted. Um, another time, many years ago, there was a group, customers at the store who started something and they made these little birds and they put them all over town. They were in the flower boxes, they were hanging from light posts hanging from branches, um, and they had little signs that said, Make Art, Not War.

Um, it’s done, you know, in secrecy, overnight usually. Um, some, some of the things are bigger installations, but it could be that they’re protesting war or they’re um, it could be a million different things. There was one where, uh, where women knit uteruses and the pattern went out and they sent them to Congress.

Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that.

Janet S. Avila: Yeah, so there’s just different, like the pussy hats from the Women’s March. 

Lesley Whitehead: I was just thinking that. 

Janet S. Avila: [00:19:00] That was craftivism. Um, so it’s not all knitting. Obviously that’s where I’m in tune with, but it’s not all, there’s quilts, there’s all sorts of things that, one of the ones that we came up in class that I hadn’t heard about before was, I won’t remember the name of the group, but there is a group that is a counterprotest. 

Lesley Whitehead: Okay. 

Janet S. Avila: I can’t remember when she said it started, see, I’m bad on details, but she’s, she was talking about how, if there were going to be protesters, say anti gay protesters, and they, um, wanted to protect, um, The people who were being protested, they created these angel wings and they were giant angel wings and the counter protesters stood in front of the protesters to protect, the people who were being protested.

So they were, they were like, if they were walking into the courthouse or something, then the, counter protest would have these huge white [00:20:00] angel wings, you know, to shield the people so that they didn’t have to look at all the ugly signs and all the hate messages you know, here and whatever. And I just thought that is the coolest thing.

Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. So one of the things that I wanted to talk about was, um, and I’ve mentioned you several times in the podcast, speaking to other women, because, um, what you created is what I’ve been talking to um, my clients about, which is your, um, fan membership, your VIP fan membership. And I’ve shared that with lots of brick and mortars who I know have contacted you. And you’ve been wonderfully generous sharing how that went, how that was created and, and, you know, why that’s been successful. Will you tell us about that? 

Janet S. Avila: So, um, of course in retail, you’re always trying to figure out it’s like, one of the things that’s kept me engaged all these years is that every year it’s a new puzzle. And, um, so it’s like, Oh, how are we going to figure this out? What’s this about? [00:21:00] 

Um, but one of the things, because this is, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary in May this year. And so I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and trying to figure out, okay, what does this mean? What have we done well, what should we do differently? And I thought, you know what? I want to spend the 20th year just doing stuff that I love. 

You know, as a business owner, you know, you have your mission, your goal, but you get distracted. There’s a lot of things going on, right? And so this really cool thing happened over here and you’re like, Oh, maybe I should do that. Oh, this yarn selling well, maybe I should, you know, bring that yarn in and, and you do get distracted. And I said, you know, this, my 20th year, I’m just focusing I’m going to do the stuff that I love. And then I thought, okay, um, do I have enough people in the store that are going to support that?

Lesley Whitehead: Right.

Janet S. Avila: So I decided to start a fan club. And the purpose [00:22:00] of the fan club was, okay, if you are a fan of String Theory, um, then you can pay, and it was either a lump sum or we’ll charge you by the month to be in our fan club. And, basically, this is the excuse for me to do all the things that are near and dear to me. And if you’re a fan, you are just going to lap this up and think this is the greatest thing. And if you’re not, then you’re not. Like, this is the way it is. Um, and so, yeah, so that’s been really fun. It’s been a great. just a little switch in mindset of like, okay, what are the things that I think are really, really fun?

And so in January, I went to Rwanda and took everybody in the fan club with me. Um, that was Handspun Hope, 

and that is an organization that was founded by, um, Diana Wiley. And her mission was to help these women that [00:23:00] had survived genocide and set up, um, you know, help them create a business that was entirely sustainable. So it’s got all these wonderful, slow fashion, um, environmentally friendly aspects of it as well. Um, just an incredible organization. And I’d been talking to her for years about wanting to go visit and finally, um, had the opportunity. And so that was something that I could do special videos for everybody, and I brought back a skein of yarn for everybody in the fan club. 

Um, what else have we done? Oh, the last one that we did this month was, um, interviewed Peggy Orenstein, who wrote Unraveling, 

which is an amazing book. Anybody, whether you’re interested in fiber or not, this is just incredible book. Um, she weaves in all these things about, um, the creative process and she, she went from shearing a sheep all the way to knitting a sweater with that wool and [00:24:00] everything that happened in between. But then she, she managed to stick in all these observations about family and women and, and history and craftivism and. 

Um, and so I knew she’s a very famous author. And, um, I was like, well, all she could do is say no, like all I have to, I could call her, see if she would do an interview with me. I mean, she could say no, but, um, it’s a sure no, if I don’t ask. So I contacted her and she was willing. And that was so much fun. I had to like pinch myself. Like I’m actually interviewing, 

Lesley Whitehead: Right. One of your heroes. 

Janet S. Avila: This incredible woman.

Lesley Whitehead: She-roes.

Janet S. Avila: Right. And it was. Yeah, it was so much fun. So much fun, um, to do that. So we’re just, so we’ve just planned out a year of exciting opportunities. 

Lesley Whitehead: In February, you sent us a gift. Do you want to talk about it? 

Janet S. Avila: A box, it [00:25:00] had swag in it. Um, so we put our logo, we did, one of the other things that we did in COVID was reinvest in upgrading our branding. And so, um, we’re kind of partial to our logo. So we wanted to put it on stuff because we love our logo. And we figured all our fans were going to love our logo. So we did that. Um, and then we also put in there a skein of yarn from Rwanda. That was really fun. And it’s going to be fun to see what everybody’s going 

Lesley Whitehead: I know, make 

Janet S. Avila: do with it. Gave you lots of suggestions, but,so it’ll be fun to see. 

Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. It was such a special gift. 

Janet S. Avila: But it’s not, it’s more about the experience than it is about the material, what you’re going to get. So, so for the year, we’re not sending out, cause some people do like your own subscriptions they out boxes every month or whatever. So this is like your gift, you know, [00:26:00] for just being a fan, for the year. But most of it is, um, Zoom experiences or special videos or, um, discounts. 

Lesley Whitehead: Right. And behind the scenes. 

Janet S. Avila: We’re wanting to encourage 

Lesley Whitehead: Behind the scenes, getting to see, you know, what’s behind the curtain, how, how the, everything’s made, right? 

I am not as familiar, maybe you can talk to this about yarn and how, the difference between the yarns and where you’re getting them from and who’s creating them because I really haven’t been exposed to that as much. This is all very new for me and so that would be something if you could share a little bit about that. 

Janet S. Avila: One of the things that we wanted to do is, um, provide something that did not include acrylic. Um, acrylic is petroleum based. And so you’re, um, supporting the oil companies and I figured they got enough support. They don’t need ours. Um, and so we’re all [00:27:00] about using natural fibers. We have a little bit of nylon in sock yarn, because it makes the socks stronger. And I figure we’ll encourage more people to make, um, naturally fiber socks. 

So there’s a lot of compromise. I am not perfect. Like this is not the most eco friendly store, probably the most philanthropic at the most fair trade. Like I’m just figuring out what we can do and what seems interesting to me. And we’re all doing our best. You know, there’s no holier than thou. There’s no way I figure everybody’s well, I just figure everybody’s making a choice. And if you can make a couple extra choices in this direction, great. Nobody’s, it’s not up to us. I firmly believe climate change is a, um, corporate issue much larger than we are, but we can do our, we can do our little, little bit. 

Um, so I was searching for natural fibers. I [00:28:00] was searching for companies that were, um, women’s cooperatives or, um, I, I say that everything in the store is good for somebody somewhere, but I decide what’s good, cause I own the store. So in my case, you know, it might be that I just love this hand painted yarn that is dyed by, in the kitchen by a woman that I just really admire because she’s trying to find a creative way to bring income into her household and raise her kids and, you know, do whatever. And I think that’s worthy of supporting as well as the women who, you know, survived the genocide as well as people who are treating their sheep well. 

You know, and then there’s the big debate between if you naturally dye something, does that use more water than if you use commercial dyes and therefore, you know, is it better for the environment or worse for the environment? I mean, there’s so many questions, but I’m just [00:29:00] exploring all the time to see, you know, who’s got what. 

And when I first started, again, this was very new. And I had always felt, and I don’t know where, why this was a belief in me, but, 

Lesley Whitehead: Perhaps from your mother. 

Janet S. Avila: I had always felt that… maybe yes, but where you spend your dollars matters. Like that is your vote for the world that you want to create. And so that’s how you can tell people what you want more of. If you buy organic yarn, then they are going to create more organic yarn and therefore you’re going to save the world from a certain amount of pesticides or, you know, fertilizers or whatever it is. Or, um, you know, sheep being treated badly or whatever, whatever it happens to be. I have a business degree. I believe in the power of economics and, you know, supply and demand. And if you demand it, then there’ll be more supply of the things [00:30:00] you want. 

So yeah, so I was looking for all of that. Now, shopping your values is really common, but it was a lot of education. When I first opened, they were like, you want me to pay more for organic yarn? Shouldn’t you pay less? Cause they’re not using pesticides. Okay. If I had a nickel every time I heard that, um, so I was trying to like economies of scale and give it and nobody really cared. Um, but it was a lot of, yeah, it was just a lot of education on why you should care about these. But it also meant that the yarn had to be really good. Like you can’t just have a cause behind it, it has to be lovely to work with or I wasn’t gonna get anybody to buy it. 

So, yeah, and there’s like Manos del Uruguay 

is a, um, over 50 year old fair trade organization that was started in Uruguay, as a women’s cooperative, and it was trying to help these women that had no, means of supporting themselves [00:31:00] except for to leave their rural communities and go to the city and try and get some factory job or something. And so they set this up, they started the first kindergartens, they trained the women, you know, all through parts of this organization so they could ultimately manage and supervise and all without having to leave their communities and their families. 

So it’s just, you know, one group after another, if you dig enough. Um, and 20 years ago was not pre internet, but almost. Like it’s, it’s easier, you have easier access at this point to find these groups of people that are doing stuff. 

Lesley Whitehead: Do you have the opportunity now, to meet with them? I know you just went to Rwanda, but have you had the opportunity to go to the other communities and see them work in person or is that part of the goal this year?

Janet S. Avila: Um, I have not, but I have to say the Rwanda trip was so [00:32:00] exciting to me. It was so much fun for me personally. And it, my customers loved it, like loved that opportunity to see kind of behind the scenes to have that access that they don’t have to these stories and to be able to share that with people. So I am looking to do more of that in the future. 

I have met with like Manos del Uruguay, I have met with, um, several of the women from there that have come here, to meet with me. But yeah, there’s a lot still to be explored. 

Lesley Whitehead: That’s exciting. 

Janet S. Avila: A lot of international travel to be had.

Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic. One of the the other ways that you support is the Hello Hope gift package Can you talk about that?

Janet S. Avila: Hello Hope is, gifts from the Handspun Hope company. So this is connected to Rwanda as well. And I talked to Diana and I said, [00:33:00] you know, this is such a good story. And there’s a lot of women’s cooperatives in Rwanda, trying to help the women of Rwanda. And so not just the yarn, but these other things. And so I started talking to her about like, what could we put together as a package? That if people were moved by this story or moved by my trip to Rwanda and wanted kind of a souvenir, they could get, this Hello Hope package. And so we had a blast putting this together. 

There’s silk yarn that is actually hand spun from silkworm cocoons in Madagascar and then sent to Handspun Hope in Rwanda and they naturally dye it. It’s an incredible, incredible, 100 percent silk. And they hand dye it and skein it and, and sell it. So we put that as the yarn in the package. And then there’s also, I’m trying to say, okay, there’s also [00:34:00] stitch markers that are hand carved from cow bone. They’re just beautiful. 

There’s a little gorilla. So a lot of what Handspun Hope does is these needle felted sculptures. And they started it as a way to employ women who were in a school that was nearby that was training for, um, women who are deaf. And if it’s hard for women who are not deaf to get jobs, it’s really hard if you’re deaf to get a job. And so they started employing these women because they weren’t leaving school because, you know, they were 19, they had finished school, but they had nowhere to go because they had no employment. 

And so they started that as it since expanded. So they have lots of people making these, but they have all these different animals that they make. They’re needle felted sculptures. They take, they’re incredibly time intensive to make and they do just an incredibly beautiful job. And so I put, um, the gorilla, cause [00:35:00] Rwanda is known for their mountain gorillas. It’s one of the, the mountain that is in Rwanda, also in Uganda and also in, um, the DRC is the one place where these mountain gorillas live. So they do these little mountain gorilla sculptures. And so we put one of those in the bag.

And then another women’s cooperative uses the beautiful African fabrics. Every country in Africa has a different style to the fabric. So these are the Rwandan textiles and beautifully little created little craft, um, project bag that’s in there.

And then I think the last thing, if I’m remembering it all, is a, um, little bit of coffee from Question Coffee. 

And Question Coffee is an organization in Rwanda that is, they grow coffee and it is all women, owners of the farms.

Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic. I love that. 

Janet S. Avila: Yeah, so just a little, a little bit of everything in [00:36:00] that. 

Lesley Whitehead: Is it still available? 

Janet S. Avila: Yes, I think we maybe have three left. Yeah, but if people are interested, type in, you know, Hello Hope, um, on our website, stringtheoryyarncompany.com and grab it up. 

Lesley Whitehead: Fantastic. Where do you see your business going in the future?

Janet S. Avila: That’s such a good question. Um, for so long, I was like, I just want to get to 20. Now at 20. I’m like, Hmm. Hmm. What does that mean? And I think it’s an issue in that, you know, looking at my life and going, oh, okay, I’m 63. Um, my husband turned 70 this year. Do we want to, he’s not retired. I’m not retired, but we’d like to travel more. So it’s just, you know, it’s trying to figure out that next phase of your life that I think is really tricky. Wanting to do it just right. Um, I just lost my father last year and I’m working, you know, helping my mom a lot. [00:37:00] And, and so you see kind of what the end looks like like, okay, then I got a lot of living I need to do before that.

So it is, I’m trying, I’m looking at ways of streamlining the business so that maybe I can have more open spaces to be able to get away and still have it run the way I like it to run. Um, I like my fingers in it. So yeah, I just, it’s trying to figure it out. I would definitely like to do more of this yarn tourism thing. And a lot of people have done yarn trips where they take people places. And I’m kind of interested in going myself and kind of, I think it gives me a flexibility if I’m not taking a lot of people, to really dig, um, and go deep and bring that experience to people. So, that’s one of the things that I’m looking at.

Lesley Whitehead: I love that.

Janet S. Avila: Yeah. And then just taking whatever comes up because goodness sakes, retail changes, [00:38:00] every six months or 

Lesley Whitehead: It does. It really does. Do you have any advice for other brick and mortars who haven’t made it to 20 yet maybe and want to get there?

Janet S. Avila: Uh, yes. Okay. So the best advice that was ever given to me, um, I opened my store up. I had no idea what I was doing. None. Never. I had never worked retail. Not even in high school. Um, and so I, I was like, Oh, I don’t know what I’m doing. And, but everybody on the block was curious about this new store that had just opened up. 

And this one woman came down and she’d had her store for a long, long time. And she goes, I’m going to give you one piece of advice. I’m like, okay, good, good. She goes, don’t panic. And I have never forgotten that, there were so many times I’m like, Oh, don’t panic. Panic. Okay, because that would be the first go to, um, reaction to whatever the [00:39:00] situation was. So that’s my best advice. 

And then just keep looking for what’s new and what you can do that’s different and try a bunch of things. Cause yeah, over the 20 years, lots of things did not work. Um, or mistakes were made or, you know, whatever, but you just keep trying to figure out, okay, I guess we’re going to try this now, um, and see what happens. And make it fun for yourself. You’re the driver behind your business. So if you’re not having fun, nobody’s having fun. 

Lesley Whitehead: Right. What advice would you, for someone who hasn’t knit before, how would you get them to get interested in it? Or what would you recommend as far as them trying or, 

Janet S. Avila: So we do have classes and we have online classes. So if people can access it that way. If you would rather learn there’s a lot on YouTube a lot of people learn on YouTube. But my advice for people starting out is, one do [00:40:00] something small. People a lot of times people say oh, I’m gonna do a scarf. Scarves are long, and they take a long time, especially if you are new right? So we do fingerless mitts, we make, in our class, we make little squares and we sew them in half and we leave a little gap for your thumb and now you have a fingerless mitt. You know, and it’s quick and easy and you’ve got a little, um, instant gratification, from that. Woo! I did something! You know? Let’s, let’s move on and do the next one. 

I think it’s hard as an adult to learn something new. And so we try and use these tricks, like make something small. Or, um, we’re big fans, we have yarn that changes color by itself. We call it self striping yarn. And we call that potato chip knitting. Because you can’t stop. You’re like, Oh, the red’s coming up. Oh, what’s the red going to look like? Oh, look. Well, that’s cool. But now I see green is coming up. I want to see what the green’s going to look like. And [00:41:00] so that’s another thing that kind of keep you going. 

And then find a community. Because you’re going to make mistakes. And it’s going to take a while before you can identify your own mistakes and fix them. And so that’s what a local yarn shop is for. You know, get your yarn with us, take classes with us and you can come in every day and we’ll help you, you know, pick up a drop stitch or do whatever.

If you’re not near a local yarn store, then, you know, find a neighbor, find a friend, somebody else that knows how to knit, because knitters and crocheters, I don’t crochet as much, but it’s the same community, are really, excited about knitting and crocheting, and the more people they can convert, the happier they are.

So, you know, people come in and they’re like, so apologetical, I’m so sorry, you know, I was here yesterday, and here I am again today, and I’m like, this makes me so happy. A, you’re still knitting. B, I feel like a rockstar cause I can fix this in like two seconds. And it reminds me of [00:42:00] the time when, Oh yeah, I was just starting and I couldn’t do that either. Um, so yeah, we’re just happy to evangelize.

Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. Then my last question is, um, what is something that people would be surprised to know about you? 

Janet S. Avila: I feel like I’ve talked about this a lot kind of recently, but, you might be surprised to know that I am a part owner of a coffee farm and, 

Lesley Whitehead: I didn’t. 

Janet S. Avila: Um, well, good. Cause I feel like you’re kind of, you know, I like to surprise you. So, um, my husband’s Colombian and many years ago, his, uh, father passed away. And his father had a bunch of different land, property, I guess. And so there were, it’s a big family and there was no will. And so they all kind of fought over who was going to get what. And my husband’s the only Colombian, the only person in his family that’s in the United States. Everybody else is in Colombia. So he’s kind of the [00:43:00] black sheep of the family. And so they, you know, fought over this for years and years and years.

And finally, we’re like, oh, we’re going to give Romero the coffee farm because it’s worth nothing now. It’s been abandoned for 15 years. Um, the guerillas, the military kind, had been there for a while, um, during some hard times in Colombia. And the brothers at different times had sold off parts of the farm machinery, and I mean, it was just a disaster. It’s in a jungle and so imagine if you hadn’t paid any attention to your backyard for 15 years. I mean just imagine that times 100 in the jungle. Anyway, so they were like, yeah, he can take it.

And so we took this property and it meant, it had sentimental value to us, and we just thought, well, this would be kind of a fun project. So, um, we took out some loans and poured a bunch of money into it and planted a bunch of coffee trees or bushes or whatever they are, and have been trying to build this back, have been trying to, we have a family that takes [00:44:00] care of it for us and we treat them very well. And we’re trying to have an impact in the community as well. And, um, yeah, it’s been really fun. 

And then a couple of years ago, um, a good friend, um, introduced me to the coffee lab at North Central College. And that is a coffee lab that was set up for as a project for students, uh, from the accounting to the business, the marketing to the engineers, to everybody has a little piece of it. And they got very excited and said, we’ll roast your coffee for you if you want to drink the coffee that you actually grow. 

Um, so for two years now, we brought back, um, 75 pounds of coffee beans in our suitcases and took them over to North Central and they roasted it up and we’ve, you know, sold some to cover the cost of the flight and, um, and drink the rest. And it’s been really, it’s been really fun. 

Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic. Is the coffee sold in Colombia 

Janet S. Avila: Yeah, [00:45:00] so in Colombia you can sell all your coffee, like the government will buy it all, if that’s what you want to do. And you can sell it at various, you can sell it when it’s just picked, you can sell it when it’s dried, the coffee bean is actually a pit, they call it a cherry first, so you pick the cherry, and the pit of that is the coffee bean, and you can sell it wet, you can wait till it dries, you know, there’s a gajillion steps along the way that you could sell it at, it just kind of depends on what’s easiest, basically. 

Lesley Whitehead: Is it sold in in String Theory now or?

Janet S. Avila: Um, we did, but literally we had, oh, no, this year we had 60 bags. And they went, you know, people who know, know.

Lesley Whitehead: Right.

Janet S. Avila: So as soon as it, as soon as it goes on sale, they’re like, Oh, gotta get one. So they’re gone now. And then we’ll, we’ll bring back more coffee in November, um, 

Lesley Whitehead: And increase your prices. 

Janet S. Avila: Well, we did, we did even this year. [00:46:00] It’s, it’s very expensive. A lot of people think it’s very expensive. I think it’s extremely cheap because I know that everything that went into it, but it also, we grow several different kinds of coffee on our farm, but this is the coffee that, um, one of them is Geisha. And that’s the most expensive coffee in the world right now. And the other one that we mix it with is Tabby, and Tabby won some coffee tasting or something. So it’s, it’s, we call it good coffee. It’s really good coffee.

Lesley Whitehead: That’s amazing. Okay. Well, I can’t wait to find out in November when it’s available.

Janet S. Avila: Well, we start selling it in January cause it takes a while to, it’s end of November. It’s Christmas, you know? Yeah. So look for it in January. 

Lesley Whitehead: Pre orders, pre orders.

Janet S. Avila: Exactly. That’s what we should do.

Lesley Whitehead: Janet, thank you so much for being with us today, for sharing this beautiful 20 year story you have with this wonderful [00:47:00] creation you’ve made in String Theory. I love it so much. And I am a new knitter and I’m enjoying myself so much. And I really appreciate all the help that you’re giving me. And I know that everyone out there who is a knitter would appreciate getting on your website, learning more about your business, and participating in the classes that you offer, and purchasing yarn off your beautiful online store. 

Thank you again for being here. You’re a beautiful human and we are lucky to have you. 

Janet S. Avila: Oh, thank you, thank you, I just, I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled that you invited me, that you asked me, that you’d be interested in talking to me. So thank you.

Lesley Whitehead: Alright. Have a wonderful day.

Janet S. Avila: You too. 

Lesley Whitehead: Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found this episode inspiring as well as entertaining. If you want [00:48:00] more out of the box wisdom from boots on the ground, creative, brave women like this one, subscribe to Her Story So Far podcast wherever you listen, and please share this link with anyone who needs some inspiration. To receive more wisdom in your inbox, sign up for my weekly letter at Lesleywhiteheadphotography. com.

Her Story So Far podcast is produced in conjunction with mad talented executive producer K.O. Myers at Particulate Media. 

Thank you to all my beautiful bold guests, without them there would be no show.

Until next time, get out there and make yourself visible to the world. We need you and your creation. If no one has told you today, you are beautiful.

Her Story So Far

Her Story So Far focuses on outside-the-box conversations with badass female creatives. These women are birthing amazing passion projects in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of their lives. Host Lesley Whitehead is an artist, visual storyteller and multi-passionate marketer. She believes age shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams or make you invisible to the world. Join us to be inspired by the wit, wisdom and one-of-a-kind experiences of these amazing women.

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Building a Community through Courage, Curiosity and Cookie Smells with Sandy Koropp of Prairie Path Books

Building a Community through Courage, Curiosity and Cookie Smells with Sandy Koropp of Prairie Path Books

January 17, 2024

Episode 005:

Building a Community from Courage, Curiosity and Cookie Smells with Sandy Koropp of Prairie Path Books

When it comes to impressive second and third acts, it’s hard to top the passion projects of my guest and dear friend Sandy Koropp. Sandy left a job she loved to focus on raising her young children. When they were old enough to need less from her, she channeled her love of books and conversation into opening a community-minded independent bookstore. Now that she’s settled her Prairie Path Books into a comfortable space, she’s working toward a new version of her earlier career. Sandy shares how she’s stayed focused on her dreams, transformed obstacles into opportunities, and some of her favorite questions for starting a new conversation. Don’t miss it!

About My Guest

 Sandy Koropp is owner of Prairie Path Books, lifelong reader, student, singer, attorney, entrepreneur, community organizer, philanthropist, wife, mother of three fabulous humans, lover of all things home including cooking and baking. As a matter of fact, she hosts monthly volunteers in her home who cook for a hundred people, which I’ve had the benefit of participating in. She’s our very own Martha Stewart.


SUBSCRIBE!   Spotify | Apple | Pocket Casts | Podchaser


HSSF 005 – Sandy Koropp

[00:00:00] Lesley Whitehead: Hi, beautiful. This is your host, Lesley Whitehead, and I am so excited to share this bold, brave, badass, creative woman with you. I hope our conversation inspires you not to let anything get in the way of your passion projects. I promise you, we need whatever is on your heart to create for this world. 

[00:00:26] Hi, beautiful. I am here today with my friend, Sandy Koropp, owner of Prairie Path Books, lifelong reader, student, singer, I can’t wait to find out more about that, attorney, entrepreneur, community organizer, philanthropist, I don’t have enough space for all this, wife, mother of three fabulous humans, lover of all things home, she loves to cook and bake. As a matter of fact, she hosts monthly volunteers to cook in her home for a hundred people, which I’ve had the benefit of participating in. She’s our very own Martha Stewart. Hi, Sandy. Thank you so much for being here.

[00:01:16] Sandy Koropp: Hello, hello, good morning. Anything for you.

[00:01:20] Lesley Whitehead: You are the kindest and I am so grateful that you’re here today. So I want to explain to people a little bit before we get started on all the other things. Um, first of all, how young are you?

[00:01:34] Sandy Koropp: 59. I’m, 

[00:01:35] Lesley Whitehead: 59 years young. I love that. 

[00:01:37] Sandy Koropp: Better than ever, sister.

[00:01:39] Lesley Whitehead: That’s right. That is absolutely true. And you have packed a lot into your 59 years, which we are going to talk about. But the first thing I want to talk about is Prairie Path books, because this is how I was introduced to you by our mutual friend, Linda. So Linda. was renting space here, and she introduced me to an office opportunity, which I took in October. And then we would not leave you alone.

[00:02:10] Sandy Koropp: That’s true. 

[00:02:12] Lesley Whitehead: About moving your bookstore to this beautiful home we’re in, on the first floor, so that we could have our offices above your lovely bookstore. Can you, um, tell us a little bit about, how Prairie Path got started? 

[00:02:29] Sandy Koropp: Yeah, I mean, there’s a couple pieces to how I got started, but the first thing is that, um, Sort of stems from one word you mentioned, which is attorney. I was a lawyer and I worked really, really hard, long hours, travel and all that. And then my doctor actually said to me, cause she knew Dave and I were high school sweethearts and all that. And she said, you know, you should get started because you’re in your thirties and you don’t know if you’re going to be able to give babies a go, you know? So I was like, oh my gosh, really? I hadn’t really thought of it. I can be focused.

[00:03:09] Lesley Whitehead: Yes.

[00:03:10] Sandy Koropp: And so I said, oh my gosh, I’m like, honey, knock, knock, knock. Um, so no, we were lucky and had three babies in three years. 

[00:03:18] Lesley Whitehead: Wow. 

[00:03:19] Sandy Koropp: Um, because also she was just thinking that the earlier, the better in terms of my age. And so, that was something I did combined with working as a lawyer. And then I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was literally white knuckling my way to and from my wonderful workplace, which was McDonald’s Corporation in Oak Brook. I loved my job, loved it. And I also, though, was raised by a home economics major, and she thought the house should smell like love, 

[00:03:53] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, I love that.

[00:03:55] Sandy Koropp: Well, yeah, and then when I went back to work, she said, well, how is your house going to smell like love? And I said, well, I bought a bread machine, mom, and it has a timer. Um, and I did that, but eventually I couldn’t do it all. And so many of my friends stayed on in their work and still are. And, but for me, I just, um, had huge tugs and pulls on my heart. And so I left the law behind and was at home. 

[00:04:21] And then when my youngest basically could make macaroni and cheese on his own, I decided I’m gonna, you know, I’ve done a lot of volunteering in my life being a stay at home mom, but I’m ready to work. And my husband said, oh my gosh, great. We’ll commute together again. And you’re going to be a lawyer and our income is going to go up. 

[00:04:42] I said, well, actually I’ve been noodling, you know, opening a bookstore. And, um, he said, those are closing. This was 2013. They are not opening. What? And I said, no, no, I, I, I think I can do it. And he said, well, your only retail experience, San, is buying books. So how do you do it? And I’m like, as in all my life, I’m like, well, how hard can it be? I don’t know. So…

[00:05:10] Lesley Whitehead: Isn’t it great when we step into things, not having all the information, but that complete belief in ourself, nobody else gets it, but we’re like, I know I can do this.

[00:05:21] Sandy Koropp: I know. And he is like, San, you don’t see obstacles. And I go, I know, isn’t that the best 

[00:05:28] thing? So, I started giving events out of my home and my long suffering family dealt with cooking demonstrations because I, I love cookbooks and I, I guess kind of, not really, sold cookbooks at the end of my demonstration, and then I had presentations of books and, um, discussions of books. And at one of those I had 75 people, they were everywhere, sitting on my living room floor, it was crazy and, um. I know it was a very popular, controversial book at the time. So the speaker just did a great job. And, um, at that event was someone who works for Tom’s Price, the delightful family owned, gosh, I think 1800s, um, fine furniture store in 

[00:06:17] Lesley Whitehead: Right. 

[00:06:18] Sandy Koropp: And she called her boss, which was Scott and David Price, still in the family, and they said, we would love to have your event over at our furniture store. Um, because if people sit on our furniture, they are just going to realize that we’re better than the rest. And they are. So I said, um, what? So I went over for a tour and he showed me a space that they weren’t using at all. It was like a half apartment that a builder had built in the back of their space.

[00:06:50] They had so much space, they weren’t using it all. Um, but anyway, the condo or half condo stayed there, but the builder left. And so I said, can I have it? And Scott Price said, What do you mean? And I said, well, I’d love not to have events. I’d rather have a store. And so would my husband, you know, wants me out of the house. Um, and I said, but I can’t pay rent because I don’t know how to have a store. And he said, okay. And so that’s how I started, paying no rent in that little half condo on, it was actually on a wrong way on a one way street and kitty corner from the public library. 

[00:07:28] Lesley Whitehead: I remember it. and there was no door into the bookstore. You had to go through, which was smart of Tom Price. 

[00:07:35] Sandy Koropp: Yes! 

[00:07:36] Lesley Whitehead: But you had to go through the front door to get to your bookstore in the back.

[00:07:40] Sandy Koropp: Yes, it was it was a haul, you got your steps in coming to buy buy books with me. But I know and people found it because that’s the great thing about location and location changes. People who want books are gonna find you.

[00:07:53] Lesley Whitehead: What I remember because I didn’t know you at the time was that, um, everybody was talking about you and what a great space this was and what you were doing. And the other thing that I want to point out is what you were just talking about was something 

[00:08:07] that, Natalie Miller, the coach I spoke to last time talks about, which is when you want to take on something big, you start with small bite sized pieces. And I didn’t realize that you had started in your home. That was very smart, because you saw evidence right away that hey people will come, you know, I will build it and they will come. So you did create that evidence for you and for your husband and for everyone else. That was very smart.

[00:08:39] Sandy Koropp: Well, I was gonna do it, Lesley, you know me. So, the question is, send out the invitation, then figure out how to do it. And that’s what I did. I love hosting. I love my home. And I had done it many times for other things. And so I’m like, hey, wanna come over? And so, um, Yeah, that’s how it started. And then Tom, the Price family sold that building and Scott called me and, you know, told me I had to move and, um, he’s a great guy, loved that experience.

[00:09:11] And so I called Town Square Mall, had a name of somebody to call if you might want to move in. And my kids grew up at that mall, learned how to drive in that parking lot, so very familiar with it. And I’m like, I’m sure I cannot afford the same rent as Gap. Pretty sure, because I’m going from paying no rent to same as Talbot’s. I don’t think so. So I just left a message. I didn’t get Dan. I got his voicemail and I said, hi, I grew up, you know my kids at this mall I would love to be there, but I can only afford blank. And I know you’re probably laughing right now, but if you want to call me back, I’m a bookstore. 

[00:09:53] And so he was very good to me, and so we moved there not long after the Price family sold. And so, um, I was there for four or five years very happily, and then you and Linda started sending me pictures of where I could have the bookshelf and I couldn’t get it out of my mind, this beautiful house. And I’m so happy here. 

[00:10:19] Lesley Whitehead: Oh gosh, I’m so glad because, um, we are so happy. I didn’t know this, but it was a dream of Linda’s to be, to have an office above a bookstore or, or perhaps an apartment or whatever. It really is such a treat. I’m so, so excited for all of us. And, and what I love what you’ve done is you’ve really taken on the, like, I didn’t do the investigation about the house, so you know way more about it, but you’ve really been very conscious of making, it look like the bookstore fits in that time in a way.

[00:10:54] Sandy Koropp: Yeah, I mean, certainly aesthetically, which is something that, you know, I get, my mom was an artist in many medium, media. And she. You don’t really realize when you grow up with color or whatever that you’re getting a sense of color. But you know, when I saw choices for the walls and the rugs and things like that, I think my mother, because we always had tubes of paint around and she would always be talking about what she was happy or unhappy with with her current work. so I really enjoyed that part of making this the Prairie Path Books it is, and honoring the, um, turn of last century nature of the home. 

[00:11:36] Lesley Whitehead: One of the things that I love about Prairie Path books is I love your emails because I love the way you write. 

[00:11:43] Sandy Koropp: Thank you. 

[00:11:44] Lesley Whitehead: I am hoping that at some point you’re going to write a book yourself. Do you have any feelings about writing a book yourself?

[00:11:52] Sandy Koropp: I don’t really want to. 

[00:11:53] Lesley Whitehead: Really? I’m so surprised.

[00:11:56] Sandy Koropp: You know, I think, thank you for saying that. And I, uh, when people say warm things about my writing, I always say, you know, I know that I’m not using standard punctuation, but I did that when I was a lawyer. And when I closed that part of my way of thinking or being, I closed the punctuation rule book as well. And so I try and write that I consciously do in a way that you pause as if you and I are standing nose to nose and, um, and sharing. 

[00:12:27] Lesley Whitehead: Right? I, hear you in my head when I’m reading that. You’re very funny and you’re very, sharp and smart. And I, when I’m reading what you’re writing, that’s exactly, I hear you saying it.

[00:12:40] Sandy Koropp: Thank you. I mean, that’s, that’s the goal. And I, I try and make everyone feel good or better about their day. Every once in a while as a human on this planet, notably the George Floyd situation, um, murder, uh, in May of 2020, was something that I really wondered whether I can write about it. And I said, well, I really can’t write about anything else.

[00:13:06] Lesley Whitehead: Right.

[00:13:06] Sandy Koropp: And I’m supposed to be writing about reopening during COVID, which was kind of happening during that time. And, um, that seemed less important than, um, what was going on. So I, I try not to, as a business, tell people what I think about the world in general, but every once in a while it comes to me. to mind in a way I can’t avoid. And so for the most part, I just talk about what I love, which is reading and the seasons outside. And people really have responded to that. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, Lesley. 

[00:13:36] Lesley Whitehead: Blizzard, blizzard, blizzard I’m so, I I’m right there with you. I’m so excited. So 

[00:13:44] Sandy Koropp: And I experienced that snowstorm on what day that was, but we were both here with the giant flakes for the first season and we’re all looking at our 1905 house and,

[00:13:55] Lesley Whitehead: I know. I love it.

[00:13:56] Sandy Koropp: The sisterhood we have up here.

[00:13:58] Lesley Whitehead: So the other thing that I wanted to talk about was, um, the way that you’ve brought, um, cooking into your business. So, um, you love to cook, you love to bake, um, you love cookbooks. Can you explain how you’ve incorporated that into this and also, now that you’re here, what you’re going to be able to do now that you’re at the house?

[00:14:19] Sandy Koropp: You’re so nice to ask that. I mean, so that was the first, hmm, yes, I think it was the first event I ever had in my home, in maybe September of 2013. I still sell the cookbook. I loved it. It’s called Keepers and um, great cover, great recipes. And so I had probably 25 people to my house and we talked about the cookbook and I sold the cookbook. And so that was the first event I did. 

[00:14:47] I am extremely enthusiastic about um, ingredients and food and nourishment and conversation. Probably best for last. I’m very enthusiastic about conversation. And so, um, that all just seemed like a really natural way to gather people and start my business. So it’s always been something I do in my life. And so pretty much the bookstore with reading and cooking is, um, you know, a blueprint for my store is my life. 

[00:15:19] Lesley Whitehead: But now that you’re at the house, um, you are going to have a, an oven here, a place to actually cook.

[00:15:28] Sandy Koropp: I know. I know. And thank you for pointing that out. There will be a normal, there was not in my very first space at Tom’s Price, even though there was a teeny half a kitchen. it was just like little top appliances. Um, so yeah, I’m going to have a real, kitchen to be in and cook from, and it’s going to smell like love here. And that, 

[00:15:48] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. 

[00:15:49] Sandy Koropp: and you know, it’s interesting, Lesley, that you bring that up because It brings up a tough piece of small business. And that is often in small business, you have somebody that loves. what they do. They’re super passionate. They go all out. And I certainly have gone all out with anything I offer from Prairie Path Books.

[00:16:09] And there were a couple rather heartbreaking times when I offered too much of myself and people didn’t get it. Um, cooking demonstrations, for example, like they wanted to come and have fun and hear me talk and chop onions or whatever, but they didn’t shop. And so that was a teeny issue, which I didn’t, an obstacle I didn’t see Lesley. I thought that everybody would get it that I’m putting time and effort in and I’m not a Vegas performer. You know what I mean? Like, I’m trying to sell books and I, you know, I understand. Um, and I’m not, I don’t have any negative energy, which, you know, about me, I have to figure it out and get over it.

[00:16:58] And in fact, one of the reasons I, I went to like one booksellers conference and when I was a baby, um, owner of a bookstore and there can be rooms full of people, you know, talking about Amazon and how people come into your store and then go to Amazon. And I was like, you know, I can’t, I’m just going to do something about it. I can’t sit and talk about it. So I felt the same way with some of my outpourings of energy. And so, um, based on you and Linda, um, you connected me with, uh, Janet, the owner of a yarn shop in Glen Ellyn, and she had started a membership model. And I know Lesley, you’re a big fan of that. 

[00:17:39] Lesley Whitehead: Yes.

[00:17:40] Sandy Koropp: So the reason I’m talking about all this is that cooking demonstrations are largely going to be for my members. And I opened and closed, um, the membership, a couple weeks ago. And you are one. And so the reason I did that was in talking with my yarn friend and, and 20 year business owner, Janet, was that you’re in a room automatically with people that get it.

[00:18:06] And so they’re going to be with you for the long haul and they may or may not buy something that day, but I don’t have to braid my energy and love with sales at the end of a, a day. And that nearly broke my heart and made me close the store. Because I was like, I don’t know how to go halfway. And the things that I do, so I guess I won’t do them.

[00:18:36] And so there were a couple of years and I don’t know if people noticed or not, but, that I, like, 

[00:18:41] I can’t look at the sales at the end of the day and compare my love and passion for what I do and feel like you guys don’t get it. I, I can’t have that hostility or whatever in my, in my heart and mind. It just doesn’t, um, it’s oil and water in my DNA. So, the VIP membership is probably the way I’ll be doing all the kinds of things that require, you know, hauling bags of flour and, and stuff like that in a good way. 

[00:19:13] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Of course. 

[00:19:14] Sandy Koropp: The, in the most positive way, I can get back to who I really am, but not feel so sad that my heart was literally broken.

[00:19:22] Lesley Whitehead: I know a lot of business owners experience that because you are putting your heart and soul into this and you want people to get it and not come in and just, listen or take advantage and then go buy the book on Amazon. That’s just, that is painful.

[00:19:39] I understand. 

[00:19:40] Sandy Koropp: And it’s the way it is. I mean, I think that you with your talent of, in photography, your shots are so beautiful and bring all of your decades of experience of, um, composition, everything that you bring to a photo. And I know it’s hard in all the small businesses because people are like, I can get it cheaper. And so, for all of us. 

[00:20:02] Lesley Whitehead: Or I can just use my phone.

[00:20:05] Sandy Koropp: You’re like, you can, and so, 

[00:20:08] Lesley Whitehead: it’s not going to be the same, but yeah,

[00:20:11] Sandy Koropp: Right. So then, but there’s people I could talk all day to people who think I can get it cheaper. And I’m never going to convince them that the community, the love, the people they run into yesterday, it was our opening day at the store here. And there were probably six people that became friends,

[00:20:30] Lesley Whitehead: Right.

[00:20:31] Sandy Koropp: just being together. And luckily, you know, people who tend to come into a bookstore are open minded and wise and, and lovely and interested. Not everyone’s interested in chatting, but that richness of experience, I can’t teach it. I can’t talk it. If you don’t get it, then you should shop at Amazon. I get it. They’re really good. 

[00:20:52] Lesley Whitehead: Right. 

[00:20:52] Sandy Koropp: I just don’t do what they do. 

[00:20:55] Lesley Whitehead: That’s true. It’s community. And that’s one of the things that I said about you. You’re a community builder. and I want to use the example of another place where you share your heart and your love. of home and cooking where you have this opportunity for women to come once a month and cook in your home or if they’re not cooking, they’re chopping or depending on what your talent is. We talked about that. So let’s talk about that a little bit, how that got started and why you’re doing that and, um, who it’s benefiting.

[00:21:31] Sandy Koropp: You’re so nice to ask, and you and I were talking earlier about when certain people call you and and say, San, I need you to do this. You do it. And so a friend of mine, Kim, who I, we raised our kids together in a church, which is where I spent a lot of time volunteering and, um, with the bookstore, I haven’t been as involved.

[00:21:54] And so this opportunity to cook once a month for people who are prison experienced came up through my church and she’s involved in, you know, getting volunteers and getting projects going basically you bring food at around 4:45, 5 PM on the first Thursday of the month to a place where there are meetings and they get a hot meal once a month. They meet every Thursday, but we provide a hot meal once a month.

[00:22:26] And so, when she asked me to do it, I mean, I, I can do it. I can cook for a hundred people. I, I love doing it. I’ve, so I was like, okay, that’s just more cans of tomatoes than I normally buy, but we can do it. And then I was like, how do I do it? I said yes first, as usual, and, 

[00:22:46] Lesley Whitehead: I would love to know what your number one strength is, is it activator? because I think it is. That someone who acts before thinking. And there are so many pros to that, by the way, because they are the baddies that get things done. So take that as a compliment. 

[00:23:02] Sandy Koropp: I have less clutter in my mind, I will say that because sometimes I, I do talk to people and they’re like, aren’t you worried? And I’m like, no. 

[00:23:11] Lesley Whitehead: Right. I know. I feel that.

[00:23:14] Sandy Koropp: And actually there’s a book that I talk about a lot, which is not an award winning book or author by any means, but I was reading it for an easy, peasy, pleasy read, and in it became this life changing, I mean really character, but what she said was whatever happens, love that.

[00:23:35] Lesley Whitehead: Right.

[00:23:36] Sandy Koropp: And she was actually going through a, a recurrence of an illness, and you know, it was hard, but she was that person that people were drawn to. And so when I read that, and maybe because the rest of the book was more simple in nature, that just popped out at me, and I said, you know what, whatever happens, it’s going to be a snowstorm tomorrow. We’re just going to love that. So I think that is the quality that, that I try and foster. It comes naturally to me, but I, I try and, um, think that way. 

[00:24:12] Lesley Whitehead: All right. Well, continue to tell us about the, um, organization of this volunteer.

[00:24:18] Sandy Koropp: I mean, I guess the community building aspect I don’t know. It just sort of, um, rolls like a snowball. I invited you having not known you very long. And I guess some people think that’s really strange, but I, I was like, why wouldn’t I just ask people to come to my house and stir tomatoes? You know, it doesn’t seem to me that weird, but I think always, I don’t have like a big barrier to, do I know you? Do I know you well enough? 

[00:24:51] Lesley Whitehead: Right. 

[00:24:52] Sandy Koropp: I, just seem like, you seem nice know, or just. I have a vibe with people and you and I vibed right away. 

[00:24:59] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. 

[00:25:00] Sandy Koropp: I just thought, will you come help? And I think a lot of people want to come help and yet. If you’re really, really busy and it seems like a vague, you know, big thing that’s being asked of you. I’m not a big fan of meetings. I mean, this is a really simple way to just have immediate impact. I mean, it is four kind of crazy hours, as you’ve experienced, trying to get food done and out the door where we drive it to, um, the ministry and right there. 

[00:25:35] I mean if you, not everyone can stay until five when we drive, but you meet the people with experience and there it is. It’s right there. It’s real. It’s extremely local. It’s on Roosevelt Road in Naperville, and so I think that’s why it’s so appealing and why there actually is a waiting list, too.

[00:25:57] Lesley Whitehead: I do feel like this is an extension or vice versa of the bookstore and the community that you’re creating because having gone to it, first of all, I’ve run into people that I already knew, did not know that you and I both knew and got to know in new ways. Um, and then also met new people like Tori, your neighbor who handles, has a, a large marketing company does branding. And then I connected her with, um, Bob, my partner who had created a product and needed, uh, big marketing brand company to help with that. And so while it’s volunteer and you’re, you know, developing this community, it’s also, not intentionally, but networking in some ways, um, which is also lovely to see because we all want to support each other.

[00:26:51] Sandy Koropp: And it’s so, I don’t know what it is, but it’s a warm nest that you can provide. I think it’s really helpful to have cookie smells, you know. Um, but everybody knows I’m in a safe place where, um, people are good and you can always say how do you know Sandy and, and your friends are ready. That’s obviously the first question people ask when you’re in someone’s home and meeting a stranger. And so I think everyone is willing to do that. And yeah, I have found some of you out for coffee without me. Um,

[00:27:25] Lesley Whitehead: That’s true. 

[00:27:25] Sandy Koropp: New friends.

[00:27:26] Lesley Whitehead: Lisa.

[00:27:28] Sandy Koropp: I know, Lisa is a big one. We’ve made so many friends in my house. 

[00:27:33] Lesley Whitehead: Also though you extended to, and I’m sure the whole group, but we’ve also done walks behind your house in the woods.

[00:27:39] Sandy Koropp: Yep. So that is just a way to, work off the cookies. I don’t know. So yeah, it’s, um, it is, why not? And so many people, and you know, cause that path narrows sometimes to one or even two people. So you have to switch up who you’re talking to. 

[00:27:57] Lesley Whitehead: That’s a really good point. Look at you. You’re kind of a puppeteer. I didn’t realize it. I did not. 

[00:28:05] Sandy Koropp: It’s been there for a hundred years, but yeah, I have noticed that, oh, where’s Wendy? I was talking to her a minute ago. Oh, hi Lisa. So it’s all good.

[00:28:16] Lesley Whitehead: That’s so funny. Okay. Then I’d really, really, cause I don’t know anything about this. First, I want to talk about you being a singer. I don’t know about this. I mean, you’ve worn so many hats, cheerleader, now singer, performer. I want to know about the singing part of this. 

[00:28:36] Sandy Koropp: Well, I was a normal, you know, kid who, uh, my mom was a singer, uh, like traveled the country in college with a group. Um, and so I kind of used to hum a tune. Um, but then you, why did I try out? I tried out for a high school musical. And I…

[00:28:56] Lesley Whitehead: Cause you’re brave.

[00:28:58] Sandy Koropp: what the heck, you know, I was just like, 

[00:29:01] Lesley Whitehead: Oh yeah. What the heck? Not all of us feel that way about high school musicals. I love to watch them. Did not try out for them. 

[00:29:07] Sandy Koropp: Well this was back in the day when we were humble pie. I mean, like my mom sewed the costumes and, um, but there was an opportunity to take voice lessons. Through that choir director, or whatever. And so, I, I did. And so, I, I, I liked it. And I had some roles in the high school setting. And then I continued to study for, uh, years.

[00:29:33] And then just sang, you know, wherever. Um, a lot in church, a lot at weddings. But I didn’t, like, you know me, Lesley. I wake up at the crack of dawn. I like to go to sleep. I don’t have any evening entertainment in me. I’m like, 8:30, 9 pm I like to be in bed. So, 

[00:29:53] Lesley Whitehead: Unless there’s a football game.

[00:29:54] Sandy Koropp: Unless there’s a football game, you’re right. Um, but no, I had, I did not have a ton of offers to entertain, In a paid way anyway, but it was not a path I saw. I was much better at school than singing. And so I, you know, went forward with, um, with academics in a big way, rather than any sort of music major and that kind of thing. I like studying.

[00:30:23] Lesley Whitehead: But do you still sing?

[00:30:24] Sandy Koropp: Sure. The acoustics are great in this house.

[00:30:30] Lesley Whitehead: So I’ll be coming in one day, you’ll be singing up a storm. I’ll join 

[00:30:33] Sandy Koropp: wailing to Bonnie Raitt. Yeah, let’s do It. 

[00:30:37] Lesley Whitehead: Wait, didn’t we have, so the baker that you have come from Scotland. 

[00:30:43] Sandy Koropp: Coinneach MacLeod. 

[00:30:45] Lesley Whitehead: He sang, didn’t he, at the last event?

[00:30:48] Sandy Koropp: He did, yeah. So he, um, sings traditional Scottish songs and um, so it’s a lot, for people who do it 

[00:30:57] it’s sort of like, how would you know that you’re in the room with a high school gymnast? You know, if she’s 59, like, well, how would you know that and unless she just flipped a flop? And you’re like, oh, I didn’t know that about you. So it’s the same in singing, you know? There’s really no reason that you would know that about people but it certainly I mean,

[00:31:21] Lesley Whitehead: Well, unless you were in a choir, you know, unless you were participating right now in a group choir that I knew about, 

[00:31:28] Sandy Koropp: That is true. And I think it’s a good conversation starter, you know, I think if you’re in a party and I love conversation starters.

[00:31:36] Lesley Whitehead: Can you harmonize? Let’s go.

[00:31:38] Sandy Koropp: Well, no, just like, what did you do in high school? or whatever, like, what was your thing if you had one in high school? And, um, in fact, Jenny, who is my best friend and is a great conversation starter, she always asks, um, who taught you to ride a bike?

[00:31:53] And It’s really fun way to bring people out and, um, that’s probably my private passion, conversation starting and just um, getting to know people and, and, um, hearing, you know, like a snow storm is a great conversation starter as well, like tell me your biggest snowy impact story and, um, gosh, there’s a million.

[00:32:17] Lesley Whitehead: What I love about you is you are very curious. I’m very curious as well. And so when you meet people, I’ve watched you, you find out a lot about them and the stories are so interesting. I know you have a million of them. Um, that’s why I think you could easily write a book, but perhaps I’ll push you on that later.

[00:32:37] Sandy Koropp: Yeah, and you know, this is something you probably don’t have time to talk about today, but one of my favorites, which has yielded so many conversations that I, that I go back to is, um, what do you think of the word shy? I have had so many interesting conversations with people of many generations, even in the same conversation cluster, because people right away aren’t afraid to share what they think, because everyone has an opinion about someone who is shy and it, you know, it gets.

[00:33:10] So much out of people, like they were shy or, I had a conversation one time and this one woman said, I could tell she was really bright just by the book she was looking at in my store, and somehow I asked this to a group of people in the store and she said, I never raised my hand once in my life. All through college, never once. And I said, can I tell you what I think about that?

[00:33:36] And she said, yes. And I said, well, I was a natural hand raiser, but also I come from a family of teachers and it’s really hard on them when no one is talking. So with that dynamic, I would feel silences and it’s not because I thought I had the most interesting things to say. There was a lot of dynamics with me raising my hand, not at all, although sometimes, me thinking I was right or, um, worth listening to. I mean, I knew that the quiet people were probably thinking smarter things than me, but. I just have that, you know, impetus from being raised by teachers that don’t leave them up there 

[00:34:17] Lesley Whitehead: Right.

[00:34:18] Sandy Koropp: with quiet. So, I’ve had so many interesting conversations, so you can steal that, you and everyone listening.

[00:34:24] Lesley Whitehead: That’s going to be your book. That’s going to be your book. It’s going to be all the stories about the answer to that question. All right. So, so what I also want to know about, because I don’t know the answer to this is how you became an attorney. Why? Where, what did you do with that? And what’s going on now with that?

[00:34:42] Sandy Koropp: The, the straight answer, I have to be honest, is scholarship. Um, I did not grow up with, um, a lot of cash, and I was good in school. And so I went to college, um, in good circumstances and then I, I really studied hard in college and I got scholarships to law school and I guess I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with an English major. Um, so I was like, I know I’ll keep going. 

[00:35:13] So I went to law school. My boyfriend at the time, my husband, had started law school a year ahead of me. So I pretty much applied to only one school. And it was the same as my undergrad, University of Illinois. And so I just moved apartments closer to the law school and studied like a complete maniac. That’s just the way I do it, Lesley.

[00:35:35] Lesley Whitehead: I love that.

[00:35:36] Sandy Koropp: Yep. And I, I mean, I like studying. I like, you know, I like closing my door sometimes and just really thinking. And I like sharpening my pencil every three hours and going back and thinking again. So it’s, it’s a huge, quiet is a huge part of my personality. 

[00:35:54] Lesley Whitehead: And you wouldn’t know that knowing you because you are so friendly and outgoing and communicative. And yeah, that’s, I, but maybe that gives you more energy to be able to do those things, being in the quiet for a little bit.

[00:36:08] Sandy Koropp: You asked me earlier when we were coming in, what would people be most surprised by with you? And I said, oh, people are always shocked that I’m an introvert. And they, if, I mean, you could spend a lot of time reading and thinking about introverts. And I don’t really do that, but there is one book called 

[00:36:29] Reading People. And it’s just basically about all the types of people. And for introverts and extroverts, she breaks them down into two sorts.

[00:36:41] There’s introverts who are shy, and there’s introverts that are not shy. So the shy introverts are the ones, right, like we used to call them wall bangers that they, you know, couldn’t leave the wall. Like they needed to be at the, you know, outside of every social event if they ever went to any or classroom. 

[00:37:00] Uh, but then there’s not shy introverts and that’s what I am. And that is that I, 

[00:37:04] I love, I’m curious, I love to talk. I’m not shy, but I love, I can sit and think for eight hours that makes me really, really happy. And whenever I say that, I’m like. It’s not because I’m thinking great things. I’m not Stephen Hawking, you know. 

[00:37:19] Lesley Whitehead: I don’t believe you.

[00:37:21] Sandy Koropp: Well, but I mean, I’m not. So sometimes people are like, oh, she needs to think, you know, it’s not like that. But then there’s, um, shy extroverts, which my husband is one where he, he’s not quite sure in an initial exchange or two, but then, oh my God, he could talk all night and go to like, he could go to three Christmases in one day. And I’m literally signaling after the first hour and a half, like there’s too many words being spoken in my head. And I think one thing that introverts experience is that you do have a head full of stuff. So to take more in, you know, it gets crowded. 

[00:38:02] Lesley Whitehead: Right, 

[00:38:03] Sandy Koropp: And then there’s, you know, not shy extroverts. And then those people are Jim Carrey and, um, Chris Farley. 

[00:38:09] Lesley Whitehead: Right.

[00:38:10] Sandy Koropp: Who just, you know, have everything out there. So anyway, it’s an interesting book. And I think it’s really interesting that people do not believe that someone who isn’t shy could possibly be an introvert. And that just shows that it’s a complicated word.

[00:38:24] Lesley Whitehead: Absolutely. All right, let’s go back for a minute to you being an attorney though, because, okay, you went to law school and then how did you decide what kind of law you were going to practice?

[00:38:34] Sandy Koropp: You know, it’s funny that I never really thought about this in. Um, this way, but I, when I was a summer associate, I, um, by the way, next to me was Barack Obama in our little cubicles.

[00:38:50] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, crush, crush, crush.

[00:38:53] Sandy Koropp: And so I, um, You could sample sort of things you might do at the firm if you did join upon graduation and I, there was an intellectual property department that had a lot of, um, sports and entertainment work. And that’s what I really, was drawn to. 

[00:39:12] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. 

[00:39:13] Sandy Koropp: I like the group and I’m, you know, as you know, I’m a huge daddy’s girl, um, sports fan.

[00:39:21] Lesley Whitehead: Yes.

[00:39:21] Sandy Koropp: And so like, I’m like, I can work with the NFL. I’m going, and so I totally loved it. And I will have, you know, that I worked very closely with Michelle Robinson, Obama. And when we were summer associates. Um, we all had summer advisors and mine was named Jim Hitzman, who I adore, but he did not like, they were supposed to be nice to us and like take care of us and see if we were okay.

[00:39:48] And he was busy that summer and he never, he’s so nice, but he was like, what he did, you know, not take me at lunch a lot. And so Michelle was Barack’s advisor and she took him for lunch constantly. And so. Office was right next to mine, and I’m like, bye, Barack. So then when I would see my summer associate advisor, I’d be like, Jim, what is up?

[00:40:13] Lesley Whitehead: But you also weren’t in love.

[00:40:14] Sandy Koropp: I know, right, right. And so he… 

[00:40:16] Lesley Whitehead: there’s a little bit of that. 

[00:40:17] Sandy Koropp: I know. And so he’d be like, what? What’s the matter? Is something wrong? Do I need to take you out for lunch? And I’m like, well, no, but I mean, geez. So I thought that was hilarious later in, in life, but yeah, so I, I got, I went into that intellectual property field because of the, um, singing and the sports. And so I loved it. I loved being a lawyer. I loved it.

[00:40:43] Lesley Whitehead: Now did you work for McDonald’s right away or did you work for some other?

[00:40:47] Sandy Koropp: No, first was the law firm where I met Barack and Michelle, which is Sylvia Anston, and then I left for more, a more focused, um, McDonald’s, I was exclusively sports and entertainment, um, and, you know, some trademark, but you know, I just love, they used to say, you’ll know you belong at McDonald’s when you start having ketchup and not blood in your veins. And I was all in. I loved it. I just was a huge believer and, um, love the people, love the freedom of, um, I actually sat in the marketing department, um, and not the legal department because there was so much happening so fast. And I, you know, I absolutely loved it. So that kind of circles back to how much I must love my kids.

[00:41:34] Lesley Whitehead: Right, to leave it.


[00:41:36] Sandy Koropp: know, rotten little buggers. So, yeah, that was, that was something. And you know, you will laugh, Lesley, um, I was talking to someone who’s kind of going through this and she said, well, how did you know? And I said, well, you know, it was gradual, but what really made, I made the call that day when I ran out of sugar. And I was working and, you know, being a mom and I, it’s just like, so anathema to me to run out of a basic ingredient that I just cried and I called Dave and I’m like, I am out of sugar. I’m quitting my job. I’m not kidding.

[00:42:13] Lesley Whitehead: And he’s like a hum and a hum and a hum, what?

[00:42:16] Sandy Koropp: Well, there had been signals, but that was it. I’m just like, I have not, I lost myself. 

[00:42:25] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. 

[00:42:26] Sandy Koropp: How could I not have sugar? 

[00:42:28] Lesley Whitehead: You’re so Martha, I swear. I love that. I’m sure when I was a stay at home mom, I might have run out of sugar.

[00:42:37] Sandy Koropp: I know, I just, it was, I think I was probably looking for the signal, the sign that, you know, no more white knuckle driving back and forth. 

[00:42:48] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Okay, I have to ask you, are you still in touch with Michelle and Barack? 

[00:42:54] Sandy Koropp: No, I’m not. I mean, I exchanged a few Christmas cards and that kind of thing, but, not really. I mean, so many of us, once we had kids, became poor communicators. So that is my story. But, um, she had a great sense of humor. She would just, she would spur me on. She got me in trouble. Cause she wouldn’t give me that look like, uh huh. Did you just hear him say that? And then I would,

[00:43:21] Lesley Whitehead: My only claim to fame with them is years ago, my sister in law, Worked for Planned Parenthood and before Barack was running, but was talking about it, um, there was an event in Chicago and he came. And so I took a very quick photo, not with a professional camera. I don’t think maybe it was, I don’t know, of, um, he, my mother in law and one of my brother in laws. So, um, I do have that photo.

[00:43:49] Sandy Koropp: Yeah, yeah. He’s, uh, you know, the real deal. There was no doubt about it. Even then, this is in summer of 1989.

[00:43:56] Lesley Whitehead: That’s wild. Alright, but now you are coming full circle, correct? You’ve decided to,

[00:44:04] Sandy Koropp: I’m getting my license back. 

[00:44:06] Lesley Whitehead: Yay! 

[00:44:06] Sandy Koropp: I will be in law. I know. 

[00:44:08] Lesley Whitehead: So excited!

[00:44:10] Sandy Koropp: I know. Thank you. I, I am too. I mean, so many people have asked me why.

[00:44:16] Lesley Whitehead: Because they have no tact. 

[00:44:19] Sandy Koropp: But, and sometimes it’s like why? Are you getting divorced? And I’m like, no, no. 

[00:44:31] Lesley Whitehead: Did your husband make you?

[00:44:33] Sandy Koropp: Nothing to do. 

[00:44:34] Lesley Whitehead: How’s the bookstore doing? 

[00:44:36] Sandy Koropp: How are sales? People ask that a lot. You’d be surprised. And so I just want to, Lesley. I, I loved myself when I did that. There is a part of my brain that, um, hasn’t been active in that particular way in a while. And I don’t not love who I am now at all, but I just. Miss it. I mean, I, I loved, uh, I loved my job and for all the right reasons, I left it behind, but, um, I just want to, and I know I can. There are requirements that I have to fulfill of continuing legal education. You can’t just hang out your shingle and… 

[00:45:19] Lesley Whitehead: Bummer. 

[00:45:19] Sandy Koropp: I know. So I have to work on it. I don’t know how long it’ll take me, but um, six months maybe to catch up on the 12 years I haven’t been licensed. And so I know, well, you’re going to be hearing…

[00:45:34] Lesley Whitehead: Lots of swears and we’ll be drinking wine at night.

[00:45:36] Sandy Koropp: I realized with the professional responsibility courses and all the things I have to get back in touch with. But I’m, I’m really excited. I will probably have no clients. I do not know. 

[00:45:46] But, um, it’s something I want to do, and I think it’s something that, you know, I missed in raising my kids in a way. I mean, I, I was always proud of who I was, but I think, um, if the situation were the same now and COVID brought so many opportunities for part time or remote work or, zoom taking place of airplane travel, which was a big part of my job. And, and that, that was just hard, of course, we all know that. I mean, if it was snowing and you got caught in New York. 

[00:46:19] Lesley Whitehead: Yeah. you’re not coming home.

[00:46:20] Sandy Koropp: So that it was just a reality that wore me down. Um, not others, but for me that was hard. And so I just, I really loved it and I, I am, I, I feel like I want my kids to see me in that way,

[00:46:35] Lesley Whitehead: I love it. I, you busted your ass to get that. and to me, once an attorney, always attorney, I know you have to have all of these credentials and classes and things like that, but I applaud you for it. I think it’s wonderful. Do you know what kind of, um, law you’re going to practice?

[00:46:52] Sandy Koropp: Um, so what I did was basically, um, I have done my own representation as a small business. So there’s everything to do with negotiating leases and, basically coming to agreement. In a way that when I write it down, everybody understands everything and talks about everything and what you learn in law school and you’re kind of naturally good at it if you even choose law school is looking forward like what might happen. 

[00:47:23] Like we just had a snowstorm here at the house and so the way I negotiated my lease was that was based in customer comfort and safety, so that there’s no inches where the shoveling has to happen. It has to do with how safe is it going to be when my store is open and customers want to come in. And that’s the shoveling. So that came in handy just because I know that if you think about things as a small business owner, you’re going to, if you spend a little bit of time, know what might happen and then plan for that.

[00:47:59] So. I’ve done that kind of practicing on my own behalf and I obviously did, um, all transactional contractual law in my practice, but then I’m, I’m probably going to do trusts and estates as well. 

[00:48:13] Lesley Whitehead: One of the things that I would tell you is, at least personally, one thing that I am not strong at is negotiating. And I feel like I could take, I need many courses in negotiating because just as an example, you know, I moved in and when I rented my space, I, this was how it went. Can I paint the room? Sure. You can paint the room. Then you moved in and the whole place got painted. And I said, you know, was that part of your negotiation? Certainly it was. Oh crap. I went back and I said, hey, will you guys paint the room? Well, sure. We will do this part and you pay for this part. 

[00:48:49] So I just for that little bit, you don’t even know, but that was huge for me because I am not a negotiator. I’m sort of a people pleaser. And so I, truly believe this of a lot of women tend to be not great at negotiating. So if you ever wanted to do any kind of like skills building for other professionals, women, et cetera, that would be a great topic to attack, I think, because that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of women but we could really use it negotiating in a way that is not, you know, steamrolling someone, but is very, you know, strong in your power.

[00:49:30] Sandy Koropp: Well, I think my experience as a transactional lawyer showed, even though I represented McDonald’s was definitely the 800 pound gorilla. Um, but we dealt with a thousand pound gorillas because two, my main, um, folks, they became friends, but it was Coca Cola, NFL, Disney. So they were as big or bigger gorillas.

[00:49:52] So you, you really learn to ask for what you need, know the difference between that and what you want. And then think through what’s going to happen. The first conflict, what might the first conflict be and how are we going to handle that? And then write that, that down too. You know, so I, I definitely ask for the world because if, you know, you don’t ask, the answer is always no, 

[00:50:19] Lesley Whitehead: Right. 

[00:50:19] Sandy Koropp: And that’s not good for me.

[00:50:21] Lesley Whitehead: No! Of course not. 

[00:50:22] Sandy Koropp: I think I was born a little bit asky, but I definitely learned to negotiate as a lawyer and it’s, you know, definitely has, has come in handy. 

[00:50:34] Lesley Whitehead: All right. I know I’ve taken up a lot of your time. We’re going to wrap this up, but before we do, I want to ask, um, a couple of, book questions. You do this wonderful quarterly, um, book review with your friend Carrie and it’s such a wonderfully attended event. I mean, everybody wants to come. Um, you used to have it in a, building that, you know, held like 80 people. 

[00:50:55] Sandy Koropp: Not anymore.

[00:50:56] Lesley Whitehead: That’s okay. The people will still come, even if you run it over days. But, um, what are some books you would recommend and maybe to business owners, to, um, women who are looking to build skills, but also read for fun? You know, what are some different books that you would recommend?

[00:51:18] Sandy Koropp: That’s interesting. You know, I almost read, not all fiction, but I tend to find messages in the fiction. Like I said, with the, um, 

[00:51:28] Maddie Dawson book, whatever happens, love that. I don’t separate my personal and business messaging. Um, so an author that I’m really big on right now is very pro America, but in a way that doesn’t go gentle on the issues that we have and how my book of the year last year was Small World, by Jonathan Evison.

[00:51:55] He is an author that a lot of people don’t know, other than that his book Lawn Boy, which I absolutely loved, has been the most banned book in America.

[00:52:05] Lesley Whitehead: Good grief.

[00:52:07] Sandy Koropp: I know, and whenever I mention that, people who have read it and loved it are like, why? What is the thing? And so I kept reading him after I loved Lawn Boy and I’m gobsmacked.

[00:52:20] He has a new one out now, which I’m reading and will recommend at Champagne and Snowflakes, um, at the end of January. But Small World is about four families and you go back and forth between 1850. When each of those families, their ancestor first came to America. it goes back and forth between who these people were in 1850 and who they are now. 

[00:52:46] And it goes through every possible immigrant story. Um, there’s actually an escaped slave from 1850 and they were not willingly emigrated to America, of course. But you follow that family, German immigrants, a Chinese immigrant who worked on the transcontinental railroad, which is fascinating to read about. And so you get to know these people in a very American way and their struggles and successes. And, um, I just think that he is such a fresh voice in American historical fiction and, um, I love everything he’s written.

[00:53:29] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, I love that.. Thank you. I would love for you to share with everyone, you’ve already told us about, um, what people would be surprised to know about you, unless there’s something else you want to share. 

[00:53:39] Sandy Koropp: A lot of people are surprised that a bookstore owner is a huge sports fan because they think that, I don’t know, do they think that sports fans don’t read or we’re dumb or something? I don’t. Yeah. So I have, people are really surprised when I say that as I’m talking about Jonathan Evison or something and I’m like, oh, and did you see that Bill Belichick retired today? Oh my God. 

[00:54:02] Lesley Whitehead: I know, to me, you might as well be speaking German because you said that the other day when we were leaving, something about a game. 

[00:54:08] Sandy Koropp: College Championship, you didn’t even know it was Michigan, Michigan, Washington. Hello. Knock, knock.

[00:54:14] Lesley Whitehead: Who won?

[00:54:15] Sandy Koropp: It was Michigan.

[00:54:18] Lesley Whitehead: And for 26 years, I was married to a huge Viking fan. So I was part of that for a while. 

[00:54:24] Sandy Koropp: I understand. 

[00:54:25] Lesley Whitehead: I was a good supporter.

[00:54:26] Sandy Koropp: Yep. Kirk Cousins is a quarterback. You got that? Anyway, so you were going to say something else.

[00:54:33] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, I was going to say, um, well, first of all, do you have any other advice for small business owners Any wisdom, brick and mortar, specifically.

[00:54:43] Sandy Koropp: Yeah. I mean, it’s been 10 years and I might need to think about that and 

[00:54:49] Lesley Whitehead: Congratulations! 

[00:54:50] Sandy Koropp: get back to you. Thank you. 

[00:54:52] Lesley Whitehead: We can have a second. 

[00:54:53] Sandy Koropp: Or I can just write it and you can, if you can enter it somehow, because it’s so much and I’m trying to, um, you know, filter it all through a tiny funnel, a couple sentences, and I’m struggling with doing that. 

[00:55:07] Lesley Whitehead: That’s okay. You can, I’ll let you think on that in your time of silence.

[00:55:12] Sandy Koropp: Well, 

[00:55:12] go for it. I would say go for it. I did not get a business degree. It has been clear many times, but I was 50 when I started. 

[00:55:20] Lesley Whitehead: But I also think you’re smart. You surround your, yourself with people who know what they’re doing. I think that you hire well, and I do think that you’re very good at that about surrounding yourself with people who fill in the gaps. 

[00:55:33] Sandy Koropp: Yeah, and I, I mean, I think certainly there’s a modesty which comes from starting a business when you’re 50 and you had no experience in the field whatsoever, that I tell my staff when they start and sometimes I have teenagers that do closing shifts or whatever. And I say, Brooke, you know what? I’d be surprised if there’s any mistakes left when I depart for the day. don’t worry about it. We’re not surgeons. You know, we’re just sort of selling books and I always support whatever anybody does in, in good faith.

[00:56:10] And I’ve been very lucky. I mean, who applies to work at a bookstore, right? I mean, I’m very lucky. Some of the nicest people and the most honest people in the world. So I’ve had no issues. And sometimes when I’m with other small business owners, they’re like, Can you believe the teenagers today? I’m like, they’re awesome, right? I love them.

[00:56:30] Lesley Whitehead: You’re getting the pick of the litter.

[00:56:32] Sandy Koropp: Well, I mean, kinda. I mean, parents love that their kids work here, and the college kids that have come back have said, oh my god, I talk about you during interviews. Or not me, but the situation all the time. Because, I mean, if there’s a leak in the toilet, it’s on you. I don’t care that you’re 16. You know, you gotta.

[00:56:52] Lesley Whitehead: It’s all figure out able.

[00:56:54] Sandy Koropp: is. It is. It’s knowable.

[00:56:56] Lesley Whitehead: Life skills, life skills, people

[00:56:59] Sandy Koropp: Exactly. So I hope I shed some light on why, you know, you wanted to talk to me. 

[00:57:05] Lesley Whitehead: Yeah, of course, why they want to hear from you? Of course. Okay. Last but not least, let’s, I would love for you to share the best way for people to support, follow, be involved, et cetera, with Prairie Path Books and you Sandy.

[00:57:22] Sandy Koropp: Oh, you’re so nice. Um, we have a website. So it’s [email protected] is the email. You can contact me directly that way. And if you forgot that already, we’re the only bookstore in Wheaton. So if you just Google, um, Bookstore and Wheaton you’ll find us in the website and you’ll see our store hours And we you can also shop remotely say during the 10 inch snowstorm You can shop remotely and have things delivered to your home.

[00:57:53] So So yeah, there’s all kinds of way, but I mean the best thing that people like is coming in. We spend a lot of time on making the space inviting and welcoming and candlelit. And, um, there’s smart people here wandering around. So, and I, I will help you get started in conversation.

[00:58:13] Lesley Whitehead: Yes, you will. And please everyone sign up for Sandy’s newsletter. I don’t care if you’re in California, wherever it is worth reading. Every time she writes something, it’s so entertaining. I love it.

[00:58:27] Sandy Koropp: As soon as we get off the phone, I’m writing one.

[00:58:30] Lesley Whitehead: Nice. All right. Well, then I will leave you alone to do that. Sandy, thank you so, so much for being here. All of your wonderful brain power, your sharing, your community, for moving Prairie Path Books here. We so appreciate it. Linda and I are so happy and we are so grateful for… 

[00:58:48] Sandy Koropp: you two are really hard to like. I’ll say that. What’s there to like about you two? I don’t know. Give me some time. I need some more time. No, you guys are delightful. We’re gonna have a blast.

[00:58:58] Lesley Whitehead: I know, I’m so excited. Alright, you have a wonderful day and we’ll talk soon.

[00:59:02] Sandy Koropp: Okay, honey bear. Bye. 

[00:59:04] Lesley Whitehead: Thank you. Bye! 

[00:59:05] Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found this episode inspiring as well as entertaining. If you want more out of the box wisdom from boots on the ground, creative, brave women like this one, subscribe to Her Story So Far podcast wherever you listen, and please share this link with anyone who needs some inspiration. To receive more wisdom in your inbox, sign up for my weekly letter at Lesleywhiteheadphotography. com.

[00:59:41] Her Story So Far podcast is produced in conjunction with mad talented executive producer K.O. Myers at Particulate Media. 

[00:59:51] Thank you to all my beautiful bold guests, without them there would be no show.

[00:59:57] Until next time, get out there and make yourself visible to the world. We need you and your creation. If no one has told you today, you are beautiful.

Her Story So Far

Her Story So Far focuses on outside-the-box conversations with badass female creatives. These women are birthing amazing passion projects in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of their lives. Host Lesley Whitehead is an artist, visual storyteller and multi-passionate marketer. She believes age shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams or make you invisible to the world. Join us to be inspired by the wit, wisdom and one-of-a-kind experiences of these amazing women.

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Changing Your Perspective through Co-Creating, Treats, and Magic Mindset Coaching with Natalie Miller

Changing Your Perspective through Co-Creating, Treats, and Magic Mindset Coaching with Natalie Miller

January 3, 2024

Episode 004:

Changing Your Perspective through Co-Creating, Treats, and Magic Mindset Coaching with

Natalie Miller

I am thrilled to be co-creating my first episode of 2024 with my friend, coach, and girl crush Natalie Miller! I first met Natalie when she was coaching in a group setting, and I was instantly hooked. I’ve worked with Natalie as an insightful coach, a brilliant retreat organizer, and a stunning photographic subject. I’m always blown away by the wisdom and energy she brings to everything she does, and this conversation is no exception. We talk in detail about everything she offers to the world, and how she fills her work with magic. 

About My Guest

Natalie Miller is a feminist mindset coach for creatives and entrepreneurs. She writes podcasts, knits, cooks, and mothers two teen girls, two naughty dogs, and a jungle of plants. Natalie loves discovering that wisdom is equal parts knowing a lot and accepting that we know very, very little.  


SUBSCRIBE!   Spotify | Apple | Pocket Casts | Podchaser

Connect with Natalie

Natalie’s podcast Mind Witchery is at https://mindwitchery.com, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can learn more about her coaching and sign up for the Sunday Letter at https://www.nataliekmiller.com/, and get a Time Witchery anti-planner at https://timewitchery.com/ 

Instagram: @msnataliemiller

Facebook: Mind Witchery


 Ashley Trabue’s Take Back Your Body Project: https://www.ashleytrabue.com/take-back-your-body-project


Intuitive reader Michael Francis Lott: https://theblossomingself.com/


Photographer King Moe: https://www.moniquefloyd.com/


Author Gretchen Rubin: https://gretchenrubin.com/ 

Author Julia Cameron: https://juliacameronlive.com


[00:00:00] Lesley Whitehead: Hi, beautiful. This is your host, Lesley Whitehead, and I am so
excited to share this bold, brave, badass, creative woman with you. I hope our conversation
inspires you not to let anything get in the way of your passion projects. I promise you, we need
whatever is on your heart to create for this world.
[00:00:26] Hi, beautiful. Today, my guest is Natalie Miller, a feminist mindset coach for creatives
and entrepreneurs. She writes podcasts, knits, cooks, and mothers, two teen girls, two naughty
dogs, and a jungle of plants. Natalie loves discovering that wisdom is equal parts knowing a lot
and accepting that we know very, very little. Welcome, Natalie. Thank you so much for being my
guest on my podcast. I’m so grateful.
[00:01:02] Natalie Miller: Ahh! I’m so happy to be here, and as you were introducing me, I’m so
happy that you know my bad dogs and my amazing daughters. And you have in fact
photographed me in my jungle of house plans, which I also love.
[00:01:16] Lesley Whitehead: I have, and that was such gift. Before we get started though, I
want to ask how young are you?
[00:01:22] Natalie Miller: How young am I? I am 46 years young.
[00:01:25] Lesley Whitehead: 46 years young. Okay. And the reason why I asked that question
is because, this podcast is technically me interviewing women 50 plus but because of you, I
know that, um, I can break my own rules. So,
[00:01:43] Natalie Miller: Yes!
[00:01:44] Lesley Whitehead: Thanks to you. So I, um, did a project, which I keep talking about
on here called the 55 Women Project. And that was a couple of years ago in 2021, when I was
living in Denver and I had a top five. I don’t know if these women are going to say yes, but they
are my kind of Oprah women, my reach, my, who knows? And you were one of them. Do know
[00:02:08] Natalie Miller: No! God, that’s so flattering. Of course I said yes. Oh my gosh. I was
thrilled to say yes
[00:02:15] Lesley Whitehead: And I was so, I was giddy. I could not shut up to all my friends
about it. I’m like, Natalie is going to be in my 55 Women, um, project. And I get to photograph
her and meet her family and meet Kevin,
[00:02:26] Natalie Miller: Yes.
[00:02:27] Lesley Whitehead: her naughty dog.
[00:02:29] Natalie Miller: My naughtiest dog, yes.
[00:02:32] Lesley Whitehead: And it was such treat, and it was such a gift, and I just have to
say thank you again for doing that because truly I really appreciate it. It taught me that you need
to ask. You need to ask, right? So, I met you, Natalie, in another group that you were coaching
in, that’s how I, um, heard about you first. And, I got a girl crush on you and that’s how it all

started. And I was just so impressed with how, and it was a, it was a huge group that you were
coaching, how you were able to connect with that person very quickly, and then also to the
group as a whole. Because I felt like whether you were being coached or not, it just felt like we
were supposed to be hearing whatever was being heard. How do you do that? How does that
work? I don’t understand.
[00:03:24] Natalie Miller: Yeah. You know, If I may be so bold, I will say I do have a gift for that.

[00:03:30] Lesley Whitehead: I believe that.
[00:03:31] Natalie Miller: I’m going to say there’s kind of three components. One is that I truly
do believe that what is most individual to any of us is also most universal. It’s like the thing that
you think no one else could possibly like has had this experience or, or could, could understand
this difficulty. Like the thing that is very, very, very most unique, is in so many ways, like it’s your
piece of the humanity puzzle. And so when we shine light on it, it is illuminated for all of us. And
we, we all connect to it in different ways. And so that’s just kind of philosophical, is that I believe
the most individual is the most universal. So that’s kind of, you know, the foundational belief.
[00:04:24] So on top of that, I have a couple of past careers and past lives. I’ve done a lot in my
46 years on the planet. And so for a little more than a decade, I was a yoga instructor. And in
yoga instruction, in the kind that I did anyway, one thing that we learned to do was to use a
demo to illustrate something. And so when, when you’re a yoga teacher and you’re gonna use a
demo, um, this would be not with my own body, but I would choose a student that I could. teach
very specifically and show other people maybe like modifications to a pose or, sort of specificity,
like specific alignment in a pose.
[00:05:17] And so that like choosing the person was a skill that I, that I developed there. And I
would, you know, I would generally choose someone that I’m like, okay, I can see that this
person is going to be able to show us all how to unlock this kind of thing. And it, it always felt a
little bit risky because you’re like, boy, I hope I’m right, but I was pretty much always right. I was
always right.
[00:05:47] Yeah. Yeah. And so then the third part, right? So there’s the kind of like the
philosophical, the most individual is the most universal. And then there’s the second part, which
is like, we can use one person’s example to unlock something for, for everyone. the third piece
is, um, I’m an extraordinary coach. Like I really…
[00:06:11] Lesley Whitehead: I second that.
[00:06:12] Natalie Miller: Thank you. Yeah. I I, and I will say it like, you know, of course, as I say
that there’s like a tiny part of me that’s like, bitch…
[00:06:19] Lesley Whitehead: No, own it, own it, own it.
[00:06:21] Natalie Miller: But yeah, but right. So, so I’m very, very, very good at it. And I think
what makes me very good at it is like, there is a way in which, like I get so present with the
person and with the, the kind of the fuller group dynamic that I’m just, I’m able to coach in a way
that does feel like it is for all of us, me included. You know, Lesley, I have a real aversion, like
the, the usual way that people do group coaching is a stand in line method, right? Where it’s
like, everybody stands in line with their one problem. And then like, okay, who’s next? Who’s
next. And I just always like, see it as like, no, this is a group experience and every group is full of
individuals and all of these individuals are here because they connect.
[00:07:16] And so it’s kind of, yeah, I think that’s, that’s how I learned to do it over time was just
through really tapping into my own, I guess, like skills and talents, but then more than anything,
truly believing that, like, we’re here together for a reason. We’re here to learn with and from each

[00:07:38] Lesley Whitehead: Co-creating is a big term you use a lot. And I think of you
whenever I hear that and co-creating this podcast and co-creating, you know whatever’s going
on. So I appreciate you sharing that for sure, because that is something that, a term I hadn’t
used before or really heard, frankly.
[00:07:54] So before we go into more about your coaching, I do want to back up a little bit. So
you were in this group program, you left the group program, and then you started, I’m sure you
were coaching individually at the time, but I didn’t know you, this was me from afar. And then,
um, you started your podcast Mind Witchery, which I immediately became addicted to. I did not
[00:08:19] It comes out on Thursday morning. I did not miss it. I would take a walk and listen to
you, you were in my head every Thursday and it’s been a beautiful experience. Even going back
and listening to the previous episodes. it was just beautiful and it was so helpful and it was
always very timely for me. So will you talk a little bit about how Mind Witchery came about and,
and tell them a little bit about it?
[00:08:45] Natalie Miller: Yeah. So the big group that we met inside, the big group that I left,
um, I didn’t leave happily. Or willingly. I didn’t leave happily or willingly. And, um, yeah, it was a
very, oh, gosh. Sometimes I think back to that time. This is like very early 2021. Lesley, I don’t
know how any of us made it through all of that. Like, how did we do it? I don’t really know.
[00:09:14] Lesley Whitehead: Well, and can I just, I’ll just insert very quickly that I never knew
that. You could not tell, being in the group, you couldn’t tell it all that that was going on. You were
a perfect professional and you kept that to yourself.
[00:09:30] Natalie Miller: Well, thank you. So, so, so basically I, I went from having, what felt
like three full-time jobs to, um, being back on my own as a solopreneur very abruptly. And it’s
2021, so it is like height the pandemic. I think the vaccines have like just come out, but you
know, it’s, we’re still very locked down. Um, But I had a partner who I met who had, who had
gotten together with a year previously, and we lived together. And so, you know, he would, he
would overhear me teaching, he would overhear me, talking on the phone, he was like, um, he
would just, he would hear me, um, describing things. And as he did, he was like, honey, you
really should have a podcast.
[00:10:32] And it’s not something that I had ever thought about. I was not one of those people
that was you know what, I’m gonna, you know, it’s going to unlock my marketing and whatever.
Right. Um, also, I had been on, other people’s podcasts and those episodes did very well. So I
did have like a little, I had a little, um, you know. What do they call it? Social proof. I had a little, I
had a little social proof that like, yes, people might like it. Um, and then I had this partner who
was super, super encouraging and I had a lot of time on my hands, right?
[00:11:08] My, um, so I, played with the idea, like what, what could it possibly be? And of course,
um, in the shower, I was in the shower one day and I was like, you know, like what I would love
to do is just give people different ways of thinking about things. Like, you know, we have this one
way of thinking about, let’s say rest, or perfectionism, or our inner critic, or procrastination, you
[00:11:42] We have this culturally shaped way of thinking about these things and I thought, you
know, I just, I think about them so differently. I have such a different perspective. What if I kind of
leaned into the countercultural, you know, live at the very edge of town witchiness that I have
and call Mind Witchery. And what if the episodes were spells? What if the episodes were spells
where you could kind of cast a spell in your brain and then all of a sudden think really differently

[00:12:16] Lesley Whitehead: Capitalism.
[00:12:17] Natalie Miller: I don’t like, yeah, all the things. Yeah. All the things. Um, so, so that’s
the kind of longer story about how Mind Witchery came about.
[00:12:26] Lesley Whitehead: It is truly a gift and the one you did most recently on, it wasn’t on
capitalism, but it had that, um, you were talking about it and I want to share that with my
daughters. And I do share a lot of the episodes with them, but it is definitely a treat and it’s
almost like, being coached without the back and forth, but you’re hearing exactly what you need
to hear from and probably everybody who listens, take something different away. Do you find
people tell you that when they listen?
[00:12:55] Natalie Miller: You know, um, yes, every week I get lots and lots and lots of
messages of like, do you have cameras in my house? Like basically, like that is exactly what I
needed to hear. How did you know or whatever? And, and I will say Lesley, like from a creative
standpoint, that podcast like coaching, I just get very, very present with what I’ve been, where
my curiosity has been led in the previous week.
[00:13:31] I, I never, much to my staff’s chagrin, I never plan episodes in advance. I really do just
kind of say, you know, I just like, can’t stop thinking about. X, or Y, or whatever, and then that’s
what I record about, and um, I think that’s part of the magic of it, and part of the reason that it
does tap into people, you know? I mean, again, it’s, it feels co-created. It’s like, I’m not coming
up with the concepts. The concepts are coming to me, and I’m, I’m opening up to pull them
through with my perspective. That’s what it feels like.
[00:14:11] Lesley Whitehead: That’s exactly what it sounds like too. It’s so beautiful. And thank
[00:14:15] Natalie Miller: Well, the other thing actually, Lesley, I wanted to say, because, um, I
think especially in this day, this day and age, you know, so many people, um, like you say, have
their second act, their third act, like so many, so many of us are starting anew with a career. And
this is the other thing I wanted to say. I don’t teach yoga anymore. I invested a lot of time and
money in becoming a yoga teacher and owning a yoga studio. I sort of did that career for 12
years and then I, I found the end of it. That, that road ended for me.
[00:14:54] But. When you listen to Mind Witchery, and maybe even actually as you’re listening to
me right now, you can tell that I learned how to use my voice and I learned how to hold space
energetically through teaching yoga. So, I am no longer a yoga teacher, however, I absolutely
use certain of the skills that I cultivated in my yoga teaching in my podcasting for sure.
[00:15:27] And I like to say that because I think that, you know, sometimes we can be like giant
shrug. What was that all for? Why was I a lawyer for five years? What was I thinking? And it’s
like, oh no, it was always for something. There was some, something you were honing there.
There was some skill that you were, cultivating that you get to use now in this place where
you’re meant to be now.
[00:15:52] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. And that is the perfect segue into the next thing I want
to talk about, which is your beautiful, um, Sunday newsletter. It’s not called a newsletter, though.
You call it a…
[00:16:03] Natalie Miller: Call the Sunday letter. I call it just, yeah, I call it the Sunday letter,
Lesley, so my ass will send it out on Sunday, I will tell you that.
[00:16:14] Lesley Whitehead: Brilliant!
[00:16:14] Natalie Miller: Because I need that little, I need that little bit of accountability to
actually write the damn thing.

[00:16:20] Lesley Whitehead: And do you feel it’s the same? It’s very organic and you come up
with it when you sit down to write?
[00:16:26] Natalie Miller: Absolutely. I sit down on Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and
sometimes I start thinking about it on Saturday night or Saturday, you know, I start thinking like,
hmm, what’s, what is it lately, that’s coming through? And then I sit and I, I write it right there.
My, my amazing, um, assistant who I could not live without, um, Sami, she has it all set up for
me, so I just have to go in there and, and type whatever the letter is, whatever the message
coming through is, but yeah, that’s how that works.
[00:17:01] Lesley Whitehead: So what I was saying about segue into that was because in your,
in a previous life, you were an English, not just major, but you were going for your PhD. And,
um, so this writing does that feel like an extension of that experience as well?
[00:17:18] Natalie Miller: Oh my gosh. Do you know I had to recover and rehabilitate my ability
to write, Lesley.
[00:17:28] Lesley Whitehead: Well, you’ve done it tenfold.
[00:17:30] Natalie Miller: Well, you cause I went, I went to graduate school, um, I was very
fortunate to be accepted into a very prestigious program with a stipend, like the whole thing. And
I was convinced I wanted to be a professor. I was like, oh, hell yeah, that’s going to be the life for
me. When I was in liberal arts school, the professor’s lives looked amazing. I was like, that’s
what I, I want to, I want to talk to young people about books all day. But in this program, the, it’s
not even focus. Like, the only thing we were learning to do was to be literary critics, and I, and
emphasis on the critic. Like, we were learning to dissect and dismantle other people’s work.
[00:18:21] And I did get to be a TA, which I loved. I got to work in the writing center, which I
loved. I got to teach expository writing, which I loved. But the creating scholarship and being a…
learning how to sharpen my knives to be in the community of like slashers, of slashers, um, that,
that was excruciating to me. So I left graduate school with my master’s degree and three
dissertation chapters left to write. I just, left. And, um, Yes, I just turned and walked away from it.
[00:19:00] And, Lesley, I couldn’t write for years. For years. Because every time I wrote, you
know, what, basically what we would do, we would write something and we would go to seminar
and then all of us would get out our knives and we would tear it apart. And I, I didn’t find it fun
anymore. I didn’t have any confidence anymore. One of my, my advisor, actually, she said,
Natalie, the trouble is neither your ideas nor your way of expressing them is particularly
[00:19:38] Lesley Whitehead: Oh my god! What a bitch!
[00:19:42] Natalie Miller: I mean, listen, she was a badass. She was a full badass. And, you
know, was trying to, in some way, in her way, inspire me to harden myself and sharpen myself.
But I, I was just like, wow. So, so yeah, so I really had to…
[00:20:03] Lesley Whitehead: It’s like going to rehab.
[00:20:05] Natalie Miller: And it took a lot of time to like recover because I would sit with a blank
screen. I had, I had had in graduate school panic attacks trying to write like, like legitimate, you
know, shaking on the floor, panic attacks, um, before I went on the Lexapro, um, then Lexapro
got me through the next several years. But yeah, so, so part of actually, you know, part of
showing up to write my Sunday letter in the very beginning was, reclaiming that capacity
[00:20:44] Lesley Whitehead: I’m sure.

[00:20:45] Natalie Miller: for myself, yeah, absolutely.
[00:20:48] Lesley Whitehead: Well, you’re doing a beautiful job and I love it. I look forward to it
every Sunday and I love that it’s organically created just like the podcast. So the next thing that I
want to talk about is, um, So you were in this group, you did Mind Witchery, I photographed you.
And then I got, um, an email that you were doing a retreat in Taos. And I just was like, I don’t
know what I have to sell, give blood, give away, but I have to go on this retreat.
[00:21:19] Natalie Miller: Ha ha, yes.
[00:21:21] Lesley Whitehead: I don’t care what I have to do.
[00:21:23] Natalie Miller: We made that shit happen and it was amazing. I loved having you
[00:21:29] Lesley Whitehead: God, I loved being there, it was such a beautiful experience. Will
you describe to everyone what it’s like and then I will also add my descriptions.
[00:21:36] Natalie Miller: I was going to say, I feel like you should describe what it’s like
because I mean, yeah. What, how did you, how would you describe it? If people ask you about
it, how do you describe it?
[00:21:46] Lesley Whitehead: Well the word that comes to mind is magical, first of all, because
it is a magical place. The other thing I would say is the thing that you talk about a lot, which is
spaciousness. Because unlike another, you know, conference or whatever I’ve been to where
it’s like, you have this at nine, this at 10, this at 11, you don’t miss this at 12, you know, it’s, we
are offering these opportunities for you. You may join us or you may stay in your room. Or you
may go for a walk or you may read a book or walk the labyrinth or whatever.
[00:22:20] So there was spaciousness within the whole week of, and also space in between the
activities that were being presented. So that really felt good because I had never experienced
that before going to any kind of conference or retreat or anything. So that was beautiful.
[00:22:39] The women were. Just, I don’t, how do I describe them? Fire. I mean, they were all,
just amazing in their own right. And so, um, unique and creative and they all brought a different
energy and somehow it all works together. And one of things that we were doing was we would
do, um, some coaching sessions in between other activities. And so again, someone would be
coached, or questions would be asked and some, and you would say, you know, do you want to
talk about that or however it was worded. But whatever was being, um, talked about really
resonated for me at least. And I, I know for the other women.
[00:23:23] And then the other thing was I’d never had a reading before and, um, I was definitely
open to it, but we a reading done by Michael, um, and,
[00:23:34] Natalie Miller: He’s, I will say he’s Michael Francis Lott, that’s his, that’s name. Yeah.
He does intuitive, intuitive readings.
[00:23:41] Lesley Whitehead: Yes, I had never done that before. And so it was quite an
amazing experience. And then interestingly, uh, one of the activities that you could go on was
the hot air balloon. And, um, ride and I had done it before, so I thought, well, I’m not going to do
that, this, for this trip. I’m going to do something else. But then when it got a little closer, um,
Sami had reached out and I said, you know what? I’m going, I’m going to go. and that, that in
itself was such a gift. Flying over Taos in a hot air balloon with all these amazing women. And,
um, I can’t remember the gentleman’s name who was our captain, but he had this handlebar
mustache. He was quite a character in of itself. He added to the whole, yes,

[00:24:25] Natalie Miller: Isn’t his name Saul? Yeah. And everybody has a huge crush on Saul.
That’s basically how that goes.
[00:24:32] Lesley Whitehead: We did, and we’ll never fly with anybody else. It was absolutely
beautiful. And then course we also had, there was a day at the spa and that was gorgeous, and
all the food is made right there at, Mabel’s House.
[00:24:46] Natalie Miller: Yeah. Yeah. At the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.
[00:24:50] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. And, and just the history of that house and all of the artists
and creatives who had come before. That energy feels like it’s there. So it was just, life
changing. And then also Mo, King Mo
[00:25:04] took photographs of us. And because I’m a photographer, I don’t get to be on the
other end very often, but there was such a beauty in being able to be on the other side, and
have beautiful pictures, photos taken of me as well as, um, Terry did all our makeup. And, um,
that was wonderful too. So it was one great experience after another, but also that spaciousness
of just, you know, having peace and a place to just be, frankly.
[00:25:38] Natalie Miller: Yeah, so I, I love that you loved it and, it’s funny as you were talking
about it, I can, I just get this slideshow and I can, it’s like a smell o vision of slideshow where I
can feel all different moments, yeah.
[00:25:55] So I started offering retreats back when I was a yoga teacher. Um, I would do these
little weekend retreats. I’ve probably hosted somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 at this point,
I’ve done a lot of retreats. Um, I love them. I think I love them, um, partly because for me, and I,
I bet you agree with this, Lesley, there is nothing quite like travel to remind you how big the
world is, how big you are, who you really are.
[00:26:32] Like, there’s something about being taken out of your, kind of day to day environment
and being in a different place with different surroundings that is just like, oh, did you forget? It’s
like all the time I say, did you forget that we are on this floating ball of rock and water orbiting a
star? Because I think you need to remember that. And like, stop thinking about whatever bullshit
is occupying your mind just like, you know. So I love retreats for that.
[00:27:07] I also, as a participant in retreats, especially being a person who has an
extraordinarily full life, right? I have my business, my clients, my podcast, my children, my dogs,
my home, you know, my community,
[00:27:25] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:27:25] Natalie Miller: I’ve got a lot going on. when I would go to a retreat and the retreat
would be like 10 AM 11:30, break for lunch, 1:15 I, it was like, it was so much. And I, I like a lot of
alone time also. Um, so I do, I learned very, very quickly that my retreats were most successful.
when I had ample time built in, like you’ve said, to, maybe you need a nap. Maybe you want to
go browse the cute little boutiques in town and spend way too much money. Maybe you want
maybe you met someone on the retreat and you two hit it off and you just want to sit on the patio
and talk about life, you know. I, I love to build in all the space for that.
[00:28:18] Um, and I also love to curate extraordinary experiences. So can I actually, can I tell
you what’s happening in the next Luminous Taos?
[00:28:29] Lesley Whitehead: Yes, please!
[00:28:30] Natalie Miller: You might have to come again. You might have to again, Lesley. So,
um, so this year in 2024, I’m collaborating, co-creating with an artist.

[00:28:41] Her name is Ashley Tribue.
[00:28:43] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:28:44] Natalie Miller: And Ashley has something called the Take Your Body Back Project,
where she sketches people. She sketches them from nude or close to nude photographs. So
she’s an artist and you get to have yourself, it’s like, know, boudoir photography, but it’s boudoir
portraiture, basically. So the next Luminous is a Take Your Body Back edition, and it’s gonna be
very body positivity focused, body celebration focused, and instead of a photo shoot, which is
what we, what we’ve done for the last couple of years, you’re going to get drawn like a French
girl! I’m so excited.
[00:29:27] Lesley Whitehead: I love that! Oh my god. That is exciting, I’m gonna look her up
rIght away.
[00:29:33] Natalie Miller: And you know, it feels like it also goes with the place because like you
said, Mabel’s House is extraordinary because in the early 20th century, there was this whole
group of artists who didn’t want to be, copiers of European tradition. They wanted to make, you
know, like art of the United States, or they would call it American art. And, you know, both
problematically and sort of commonsensically, they looked to the West, and they looked to
native cultures and they looked to, what was sort of originally here and tried to tap into that
[00:30:21] Now, of course, they did some appropriation as they did, but I think the sense really
was like, um, there is already art of this continent and we want to be, we want to be a part of it.
So at Mabel’s house, because Mabel was a, Mabel was a New York socialite, but at Mabel’s
house, she had Georgia O’Keeffe there. And she had Ansel Adams there and she had writers
there. She had DH Lawrence there. She Willa Cather there. She had, carl Jung went there.
[00:30:52] Like they would go out, you know, into the middle of the high desert in New Mexico in
the mountainous desert of New Mexico, and basically like lived in this communeish way with
Mabel and her, her native husband, Tony Lujan. So yeah, when we go, like you, you can stay in
the room Willa Cather stayed in, it’s very fun.
[00:31:18] Lesley Whitehead: It’s funny because the other thing that it felt like was, it actually
felt like we were coming to your house and you were, um, hosting us all there because I, I don’t
know how to explain it, but it didn’t feel like it was somebody else’s place. First of all, we were
the only ones there. We don’t share the space with anyone else. So that is key. And then, um, I
don’t know. It just, it felt like we were going to Natalie’s house and we all had our own beautiful
rooms and
[00:31:52] Natalie Miller: What’s, what’s interesting I think is that, um, I’m from New Mexico. I’m
not from Taos, but I am from New Mexico and it was in was in 2016. I had this very strong
feeling I was meant to do a retreat in New Mexico. And I, my dad was, was still living in New
Mexico at that time. And I called my dad and I was like, hey dad, you want to come drive me
around Northern New Mexico to look at retreat centers? Um, and he did.
[00:32:24] And when I came to Mabel’s house, and this is a, I won’t go into the long, very
magical story about it all. Basically, I, I almost didn’t go there, but I, I did end up going. When I
walked in Lesley, my, my eyes actually filled with tears. I was overcome with the feel of that
place. And, did feel like it was kind of part of my home. And so since then, since, since 2017,
except in high pandemic times, I’ve gone every year. I go every year, sometimes more than
[00:33:00] Lesley Whitehead: Oh my gosh. I, and, and you also don’t, the group is not large, so
it’s not, you know, you’re not there with 40 people. It’s a small, intimate group and so it’s easy to
connect and be a part of that. And also that’s a little bit maybe also why it feels like you’re the

host hosting in your because it doesn’t feel like a retreat in that, you know, or conference or in
way. And that’s beautiful.
[00:33:32] Natalie Miller: Yeah. I like for the group to be big enough that there will be different
people, right? So big enough that like some of us have kids and some of us don’t have kids and,
you know, some of us are partnered and some of us aren’t partnered and, you know, I, I like, I
like for there to be diversity that way. But,
[00:33:53] there’s always just a deep soul resonance among the people. Like the people are not
the same, but they are like, like spirited or like hearted or something. And so, real bonds forge.
[00:34:07] I actually, now I, I like people to have single rooms, but once upon a time people
would room together. And I know two sets of roommates from Taos who became, like, besties,
and they are still best frIends.
[00:34:20] Lesley Whitehead: Well, I definitely keep in touch with everyone, because it’s a
beautiful group. And as you were talking about that, what vision came to me was a moth to a
flame. You’re the flame, you’re the light. And so doesn’t surprise me that that happens very
organically because the people that are interested, that want to hear from you, that you are
surrounded by are like minded, even if they’re not similar in their life. You know, how they live or
who they are. So that’s beautiful.
[00:34:51] And, the other opportunity that I’ve had to work with you is with your, um, coaching
group that you created called Crucible, which was so much fun. It was a seven week, coaching
group, that would meet and I don’t want to say the goal because I don’t think that was really the
point, but it was, do you have a project or something that you are trying to birth get done? This is
your opportunity. We’re going to support you in that.
[00:35:19] And so, it’s funny because when I joined the group, it was last fall and I thought that
what I was launching at the time was my podcast. But actually what I was launching and what I
completed in that time was my 55 Women Project launch party for the book that I’m going to be
presenting. So it was really funny because I went in with this one idea, which of course I did
launch the podcast, but I didn’t realize until I was in it that I needed to get that, launch party
done before this could happen. So I’m sure you’ve seen that over and over. Can you describe
little bit about the group and what you saw?
[00:36:01] Natalie Miller: Well, I guess, know, what, what Crucible is about is sort of saying, I
know you have this idea and you’ve been hesitating bringing it to life. And I think a lot of,
coaching, frankly, is about what’s your goal and how do you accomplish it, right? It’s like, okay,
what’s the goal? Let’s work backwards from the goal. Let’s find milestones. Let’s, and I just, that
shit has never worked for me.
[00:36:35] I think especially, and I wonder if you agree with this. I think especially for creatives,
like we’re just not that linear, actually. We’re just not that linear. We’re very sensitive. and for me,
you know, there’s so many ideas in here. Like, like you, right? You’re like, I want to do a podcast,
but first I got to get this book launched. Right?
[00:36:58] So really, really what Crucible is about is like, yes, there’s a project that I’m hoping to
help you take action on, and I, I, I’m hoping to help you action on an idea, but it’s less about the
idea and so much more about you. Who are you, what holds you back? What do you need to
support you? What are the mindset blocks, the doubts, the fears, the imposter bullshit? Like
what, what is in the way? What is between you and this idea coming into the world? And you
know, when the focus is on you, when it’s on the creator rather than idea, then whatever is kind
of meant to be created, whatever is best aligned, that’s what ends up coming out of it.
[00:37:57] And so what I hope is that people leave, not like, I accomplished my goal. Like, uh,
and it’s cool if you accomplish your goal, but, but more than that, it’s like, oh, I have so much

more respect for my creative process, and I how to work with it. Or gosh, I have been asking
myself to create while I’m surviving on crumbs of inspiration. I have learned how to, how to have
big ass chunks of bread of inspiration rather than crumbs, you know?
[00:38:33] So that’s really what I’m hoping is that, you know, your, your relationship to your
creativity is what changes and evolves. And then, of course, because that’s how it works, people
do leave and they create their new offers, they create their podcasts. I think, yeah, they write the
book, they, they do the thing.
[00:38:58] Lesley Whitehead: I saw over and over again. One of the things that you focused on
and also in, in another group I’m going to talk about is treats. Can we talk a little bit about treats
and, um, what treats are?
[00:39:14] So most people would think, well, a treat is something you receive after you’ve done
whatever the job was that you needed to do. And what you are talking about is no, you can’t do
the thing until you fuel yourself in the ways that you need to. Whether it’s through something
physical, something that you need to eat, some sleep, a nap, um, it could also be something like
racing a race car like we’ve just heard from one of the members. So, um, talk a little bit about
[00:39:53] Natalie Miller: Hmm.
[00:39:54] Lesley Whitehead: Please.
[00:39:55] Natalie Miller: So this is a concept that I was first introduced to by
[00:40:00] Gretchen Rubin actually. Gretchen Rubin in her book, you know, she’s the Happiness
Project, Four Tendencies lady, she a book about habit making called Better Than Before. She
talks about treats there, and I took her idea and I, I ran with it and I exploded it, because I found
it so useful for me.
[00:40:20] So I think, you know, not only do people think of treats as like rewards, people also
think of treats as a bonus or an extra. Oh, that’s not necessary, that’s just a treat. And, to me,
like my definition of a treat is anything that wakes you up to life. Anything that connects you with
the abundance and wonder of this life. And so there’s one woman who was like, oh, I want to lie
in the grass. And I’m like, Oh God, I would never lie in the grass. That’s not, that’s not for me.
Right? So, so treats are very, very individual is what I’m saying. She wants to lie in the grass.
Other people want to go for a hike. Other people want to rest in a luxury hotel room. Other
people want to have sex. Other people want to read a novel.
[00:41:18] You know, for me, a huge treat is going to the public library and just browsing. I like to
browse the new books. I like to browse the cookbooks. Um, I like to browse, uh, the graphic
novels for my daughters. Um, That’s a huge treat for me because when I do that, I just, I can’t
believe how creative people are, how prolific. I can’t believe that together, especially at a time
when we are just getting so much wrong, we still do this thing together where we fund public
libraries and I just find that amazing. And so, you know, when I go to a library, I am opening up
to and connecting with so much that is good.
[00:42:09] The more I do that, the more connected I am, the easier it is to be in that state of
abundant co creation. If I’m skimping. and saving and withdrawing from the world, if I’m trying to
do what they tell you to do, buckle down, nose to the grindstone, eyes on the prize. For me, all
of that, like, as I say those phrases, Lesley, I just think of this like narrowing, narrowing,
narrowing, narrowing. And for me, treats are this expansive, it’s like, oh my gosh, look, like I’m
just surrounded by miracle. And for me, that’s the place where all the good work happens from
that place where you’re just like saturated in that connection.

[00:43:10] Lesley Whitehead: It reminds me of Julia Cameron’s,
[00:43:14] advice in her book, which is, um, take yourself on a date every week, a two hour date
by yourself for inspiration. And it could be a walk in the woods or whatever, but the treat idea
reminds me of that, but a bigger, broader way.
[00:43:31] Natalie Miller: Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, the other thing I love about treats
as a coach is that as you treat yourself, you will excavate every limiting belief. Like,
[00:43:48] Lesley Whitehead: Right, right.
[00:43:49] Natalie Miller: every self worth issue, every bit of social conditioning that is trying to
keep you small and settling, you will encounter it.
[00:44:00] And, you know, I remember once upon a time, a, a treat for me was knitting in the
middle of the day. Like sitting with a, sitting with a knitting project and knitting just like 2:30 PM.
That felt like a real treat to allow myself to do that. Now a treat is like, could I do two weeks in
Maine this summer, instead of just one? Ooh, two weeks, that would be a treat.
[00:44:29] So I’ve really worked my way up. As I work my way up. I come face to face with
whatever limiting belief that says, you know, that’s too much. That’s indulgent, that’s selfish, et
cetera. So I love treats for just helping us to really grapple with and work through some of that
societal conditioning that keeps us so, so small and hungry.
[00:45:00] Lesley Whitehead: Well, you’ve created a treat for us, which is Time Witchery
Planner, which is a huge treat. And when I joined Crucible, I got a copy of it and, um, I’m
addicted to it. I go to it every day um, I love it. So it’s almost like a mini coaching session with
Natalie, that’s what it feels like, because it talks about, vibes and values, and then, um, beliefs
and, um, fuel and what you have today. And then what you’re letting go of, the most important
thing, and appreciation. So that’s a very brief description of it, but I would love to hear you talk
about Time Witchery and how it came about.
[00:45:44] Natalie Miller: yeah. About, yeah. So, time witchery. there’s a lot of witchery around
here. Um, so, so, and P. S. Lesley, I’m oh my gosh, this is like a tour Natalie’s offers this like,
wow, thank you. Um, okay. Yeah. So, so, I discovered in, I don’t know, somewhere in the, in the
2010s, um, I discovered a planner that Danielle Laporte created. Did you ever know this, the
desire map planner?
[00:46:18] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, I had it.
[00:46:19] Natalie Miller: Yeah. Yeah. So she doesn’t make it anymore. Um, and I don’t know
why, but the desire map planner was a very different kind of planner because it was actually not
all about like, what you were going to do that day. It had other prompts or it had other… it wasn’t
just about what you were going to do. And so I loved those planners, and, and realized that
when I expanded my daily focus from my to do list into these other areas, I just was so much
more prolific and so much more, um, connected again, so much more effective. Like I just, took
more action and, um, I grew. I, that’s really what it is. I grew.
[00:47:06] Lesley Whitehead: Yes.
[00:47:07] Natalie Miller: So she wasn’t making them anymore. I have a client that I had turned
on to that planner, that was like, well, You need to do it.
[00:47:20] Lesley Whitehead: Create the thing you want to see in the world?
[00:47:23] Natalie Miller: Exactly. Yeah. She’s like, she’s like, I’m waiting. So you just let me
know when it’s available. And so, um, so I did decide to make it and to design it. And yeah, I like

to call it an anti planner, because it is, it is not actually so much about planning as it is about.
being and flowing. It’s like a flower. It’s like, it, it, it asks you like, it asks you to be really present
with yourself and with your day and what’s happening. Um, it builds in this idea that we need
fuel, that we can’t just expect ourselves to keep doing and accomplishing without receiving any,
any fuel or, any treats, any pleasure. So yeah, I like to say it’s for your human being, not your
human doing.
[00:48:20] Lesley Whitehead: I love that.
[00:48:21] Natalie Miller: Of course
[00:48:21] I will say, Lesley, I love, I love Time Witchery. I also, version two already lives in my
head. So I’m like, okay, what did I get? Yeah, totally. Oh my gosh. Of course. I’m like, Ooh, you
know what else would be great? Or you know what I want to do instead? So, do you do that
when you look back at your work sometimes? Do you want to like do over or do differently?
[00:48:42] Lesley Whitehead: Yes absolutely. The projects that I’ve created. Yes. I’ve thought,
oh yeah, but then that’ll be the 2.0. And I was talking to my last guest about that, you know, how
many versions of the iPhone do we have? Nothing is perfect right out. Right. We have to release
it into the world to figure out where it needs to go next.
[00:49:04] Natalie Miller: And that does circle back to that idea of co creation also, right? It’s
like, well, when I made Time Witchery, I was co-creating in one particular moment with certain
influences, and now I’m in a different moment. And I have different inspirations and I have
different influences and different things that are working for me and so it, it will evolve, but for,
for now, there are plenty of Time Witcheries to go around.
[00:49:30] Lesley Whitehead: Good, good. So then when you receive a time witchery, there’s
also additionally, I think you put together a video series, right?
[00:49:40] Natalie Miller: It’s an audio course.
[00:49:41] Lesley Whitehead: Audio. So not only do you get the Time Witchery planner, but you
also get you explaining different ways to use it because there is no one right way. For instance,
the calendar doesn’t have to be a calendar of days, right?
[00:49:58] Natalie Miller: Right. yeah, because I wanted there to be a lot of space in Time
Witchery for creativity. Like I definitely, I, I appreciate the bullet journalers out there. I could
never. I could never.
[00:50:12] Lesley Whitehead: I tried, I tried, I failed.
[00:50:14] Natalie Miller: I also tried, I like, it’s, it’s like, Natalie needs something, some kind of
structure. Put me in some kind of room, please. Like, don’t, don’t leave me in a void of dots.
[00:50:27] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:50:27] Natalie Miller: Don’t leave me in a void of dots! But I wanted it to be somewhat
flexible and you know, the audio course, Lesley is also about…
[00:50:37] It is deeply counter cultural this anti planner. And so, unfortunately I need to explain
what fuel is, like what I mean by that. And I think, to talk about what does it look like to really
think about your values and your vibes and why is that important? And how do you even come
up with that? So yeah, the audio course is there to support because it is, it’s a very different way,
of approaching the beginning your day,

[00:51:08] Lesley Whitehead: And what I meant when I said calendar was actually the monthly
calendar, there are individual days, of course, for those things that I mentioned, but then there’s
the monthly calendar, which you had other suggestions for.
[00:51:20] Natalie Miller: Yeah. Yeah. Cause there’s all kinds of things you do with it. Some
people love to see their month at a glance. I’m not one of those people. I’m barely seeing this
afternoon at a glance. I’m so hyper present.
[00:51:35] Lesley Whitehead: But you know what’s been wonderful is the way that you think
and the way your brain works has been great for me because it’s made me look at, change my
perspective and look at things differently as well. really appreciate that so much.
[00:51:49] All right. I do want to talk about, uh, Main Character Magic, because we’re wrapping
that up this week. What’s interesting about you is your coaching. There’s no, it’s not like you go
to your website and there’s a list of your coaching opportunities. They’re very, just like you, very
organic. And you’ll say, I’ve come up with Cauldron, and Cauldron is here for this, and Crucible
is here for this, but it’s, it’s very organic and I love that. And so you came up with Main Character
Magic for the last couple of months of the year. And I really enjoyed it. It’s been a big group,
probably the biggest group I’ve been in so far with you.
[00:52:29] Natalie Miller: Yeah, there are a lot of people in there. And, and it’s so interesting,
right, Lesley, because I think, you know,
[00:52:35] anyone who’s listening, who has a business or an online business, like what we’re
taught is you have to figure out your offer and then iterate on your offer and perfect your offer
and keep enrolling people in your offer and listen, I, I tried. It just doesn’t work for me.
[00:52:53] Lesley Whitehead: I envision you saying to, um, Sami and the group, okay, uh, I’ve
come up with this, this idea, this is what I’m going to do. And then we’re going to create it, right?
Like, I don’t feel like this is like preplanned on September 10th. We know we’re going do this.
[00:53:10] Natalie Miller: No never, in fact every business coach who has tried to get me to
think about Q anything. Q1, Q2, like I just, I, I can’t, and this is something that I’m still coming to
really honor about and accept in myself
[00:53:29] I am a very present moment being. That’s where my inspiration is. You know, if we
kind of circle back to where you were talking about my coaching, like, how do you do that? I’m
just completely here. When I’m talking to a client, I am with them 100 percent like here. I’m not
going forward to any like, objective or goal. I’m no, let’s just be fully here with you. So I have to
be fully here with myself too.
[00:54:00] And yeah, Main Character Magic, it was something that I was, like, noticing, I was
feeling into, it’s something that I was working with myself. That’s also a key for me when I’m
working with it myself, it’s going to be, it’s going to be pretty magical. And so, yeah, on a total
whim, I was like… oh, I had actually, I had one client, I think a crucible, a round of Crucible was
ending. And I had one client who was like, Oh, I don’t want to stop meeting, what’s next?
[00:54:26] Lesley Whitehead: I think we all said that, I think we all said that. That wasn’t just
one person.
[00:54:32] Natalie Miller: Yeah, well, and, and so I was kind like shrug, I don’t really have a
plan. And I, I don’t, well, I’ll do Main Character Magic. And, you know, and I said to myself, you
know, as long as I have like six people it’ll be fine. And it’s enormous. Yeah. It really, um, it did
[00:54:51] But you know, I want to say that, especially for your, your, your entrepreneurial
listeners out there, Lesley, because it’s like,

[00:54:59] the best way is actually the way works for you. Someone else does not know the best
way to do this. You know the best way to do this. It’s the way that goes with your own energy
and inspiration and the way that you create and the way that feels good to you, that is best way.
I promise.
[00:55:21] Lesley Whitehead: And that’s what you are beautiful at pulling out of people and
getting them to recognize and helping them see. That’s what’s so beautiful about your gift is that
through your podcast, through your letter, through coaching, through your retreats, through your
free offers, like unhexing procrastination, all those things you are gifting that. And we re, we all
really appreciate it.
[00:55:49] Natalie Miller: Thank you so much, Lesley. I really, I feel that. Thank you.
[00:55:54] Lesley Whitehead: Good, good, I’m so glad. Well, I have to ask, is there anything
else that I missed that you would like to discuss?
[00:56:02] Natalie Miller: No, oh my gosh. You, I, I loved, I loved getting to reflect on all of these
different, um, different aspects of my work, Lesley, like, thank you so much for asking about
them. It’s interesting, know, when you’re in your life, you’re just in your life. And so when you
take these steps back, I’m like, Oh wow, this is a… this is a whole thing, isn’t it?
[00:56:25] Lesley Whitehead: I am Oprah like. Own that.
[00:56:30] Natalie Miller: All right. I’ll I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m going to work on it.
[00:56:34] Lesley Whitehead: Okay, the other thing I have to ask is, what would people be
surprised to know about you?
[00:56:40] Natalie Miller: Hmm. What would people be surprised to know about me? Gosh,
Lesley, I am such an open book. Like, like, I don’t know. I’m like, I’m weird. I’m a weird open
[00:56:57] Lesley Whitehead: You’re not weird, but you’re definitely an open book.
[00:57:00] Natalie Miller: Like, what would people be surprised to know about me? I think the
thing I’m going to say is. Well, I don’t know. It’s the only thing that comes to mind. A lot of times
when I talk with people, especially people who’ve kind of been like following my work for a while,
they’re like, oh, wise, grounded being, you know? I overheard someone at a retreat once being
like, I really thought she’d be taller. So be so I
[00:57:43] Lesley Whitehead: And have a halo?
[00:57:46] Natalie Miller: And, you know, on the one part, like I do want to celebrate, like, yeah,
I actually like, I have been brave enough to do what I really want to do in this world. And that is
the secret in my opinion, do what you really want to do. That’s the secret to success. And so,
you know, in a way I feel like, yeah, like I, I, I can acknowledge that I have, found it.
[00:58:06] At the same time,
[00:58:07] I think the thing that people might be surprised to know is like, I am fully still a middle
aged white woman living in the United States. I have my insecurities that I’m still working with. I
get really annoyed parking lots, like, you know, it’s like, I, like, I’m,
[00:58:37] Lesley Whitehead: Human.

[00:58:38] Natalie Miller: I’m so human. Like I’m really right there. I’m really right there in it. And
I don’t know, I don’t know how that sounds to come across, but I think, you know, like does
mindset work and coaching and Mind Witchery, does it work? Yes, totally does work, but I still
live on planet Earth. I’m still a human on planet Earth. So I get tripped up all the time. I spend all
kinds of money on LED devices for my aging skin. I don’t know, right? a real, I’m real ass, real
ass person over here.
[00:59:07] Lesley Whitehead: And we all appreciate it. All right, Natalie, I am so grateful that
you were here and my guest, um, in this new year, because actually this will be, um, the first
podcast for 2024, so I’m really excited about that.
[00:59:23] Natalie Miller: I love it! Happy new year. Do whatever you want this year. The best
way to spend this year is doing what you want. Follow Lesley’s lead. Follow Lesley’s lead. She’s
doing it. She’s doing it. We’re doing it. Come do it with us.
[00:59:39] Lesley Whitehead: We are, we’re doing it. Absolutely. All right. How can any
everybody find you? That’s the, the most important thing. Where do they find you?
[00:59:48] Natalie Miller: Yeah. Well, Mind Witchery is my podcast. You can find that wherever
you found this one And if you’d like the Sunday letter, you can get the Sunday letter at my
website, which is nataliekmiller.com.
[00:59:59] Lesley Whitehead: Wonderful. Natalie, thank you so much. I am so, so grateful for
you and for all this time you’ve given us. It’s been such a treat. It’s been a treat!
[01:00:11] Natalie Miller: It’s been a treat for me, too. It’s been a treat for me too. Thanks,
[01:00:15] Lesley Whitehead: Thank you.
[01:00:16] Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found this episode inspiring as
well as entertaining. If you want more out of the box wisdom from boots on the ground, creative,
brave women like this one, subscribe to Her Story So Far podcast wherever you listen, and
please share this link with anyone who needs some inspiration. To receive more wisdom in your
inbox, sign up for my weekly letter at Lesleywhiteheadphotography. com.
[01:00:45] Her Story So Far podcast is produced in conjunction with mad talented executive
producer K.O. Myers at Particulate Media.
[01:00:56] Thank you to all my beautiful bold guests, without them there would be no show.
[01:01:01] Until next time, get out there and make yourself visible to the world. We need you and
your creation. If no one has told you today, you are beautiful.
[01:01:14] So, um, I. Just went blank. Thank God chaos going to be fixing
[01:01:25] Natalie Miller: you, honey. Thank
[01:01:28] Lesley Whitehead: such a good man.

Her Story So Far

Her Story So Far focuses on outside-the-box conversations with badass female creatives. These women are birthing amazing passion projects in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of their lives. Host Lesley Whitehead is an artist, visual storyteller and multi-passionate marketer. She believes age shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams or make you invisible to the world. Join us to be inspired by the wit, wisdom and one-of-a-kind experiences of these amazing women.

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Creating Organic Connection in a Woman-Centered Gathering Space, with Consciousness Concierge Kathy Bresler

Creating Organic Connection in a Woman-Centered Gathering Space, with Consciousness Concierge Kathy Bresler

December 20, 2023

Episode 003:

Creating Organic Connection in a Woman-Centered Gathering Space, with Consciousness Concierge

Kathy Bresler

The only thing more amazing than Chicago’s ALTAR Community is its founder, the wonderful Kathy Bresler. Because of her vision and passion, ALTAR holds space for women to connect, explore, and discover. Kathy joins me to talk about the experience of conceiving ALTAR, bringing her intentions into physical reality, and persisting through the pandemic. It’s the story of a brilliant, generous woman, and a mystical convergence of commitment and serendipity. I can’t wait to share it with you.

About My Guest

Kathy Bresler is the founder and Consciousness Concierge of ALTAR Community, a woman-centered gathering space in Chicago. She is a lifelong learner, a mystic with an MBA, a SoulCollage enthusiast, an impeccable space holder, a 20-year breast cancer survivor, morning person, poetry lover, Virgo sun, Sag rising, Aquarius moon, Enneagram one, Manifestor, INFP, and convener of transformative conversations. 

SUBSCRIBE!   Spotify | Apple | Pocket Casts | Podchaser

Connect with ALTAR


Instagram: @altarcommunity

Facebook: ALTAR


Writer and entrepreneur Emily McDowell https://www.emilyonlife.com

Her card company Em & Friends https://emandfriends.com/ 


Kimothy Joy, artist and author of Extraordinary Wing Women https://www.kimothyjoy.com/ 


Author and artist Kim Krans https://kimkrans.com/ 

Her beautiful graphic memoir Blossoms and Bones https://www.amazon.com/Blossoms-Bones-Drawing-Life-Together-ebook/dp/B07SX2K672?ref_=ast_author_dp 


Elizabeth Lesser, author of Broken Open and Cassandra Speaks https://www.elizabethlesser.org/ 


The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies https://www.eomega.org/ 


We Can Do Hard Things podcast https://wecandohardthingspodcast.com/ 


HSSF 003 – Kathy Bresler
[00:00:00] Lesley Whitehead: Hi, beautiful. This is your host, Lesley Whitehead, and I am so
excited to share this bold, brave, badass, creative woman with you. I hope our conversation
inspires you not to let anything get in the way of your passion projects. I promise you, we need
whatever is on your heart to create for this world.
[00:00:26] Lesley Whitehead: Hi, beautiful woman. I am here with founder and consciousness
concierge of ALTAR Community, a woman centered gathering space in Chicago. She is a
lifelong learner, a mystic with an MBA, a SoulCollage enthusiast, which by the way, I’m so
grateful for. An impeccable space holder, a 20 year breast cancer survivor, morning person,
poetry lover, Virgo sun, Sag rising, Aquarius moon, Enneagram one, Manifestor, INFP, covernor
of transformative conversations. My friend and the lovely Kathy Bresler. How are you?
[00:01:15] Kathy Bresler: Thank you for having me.
[00:01:15] Lesley Whitehead: I am so grateful that you are here today. I am so, so grateful and
I got to see you this week. So that was such a pleasure. We’re going to talk about that. But
before we get started, I do have a question for you. How young are you?
[00:01:29] Kathy Bresler: I am 59 years young.
[00:01:32] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. And how do you feel about being 59?
[00:01:38] Kathy Bresler: I feel great about being 59. Actually, I mean, you know, it’s a little like.
Mmm, I’m almost 60. But mostly, I feel great. I love being this age.
[00:01:50] Lesley Whitehead: Good. Do you feel like they say that, you know, every decade is
better. Do you feel that way? Do you feel like 50s better than 40s better than 30s better than 20?

[00:02:01] Kathy Bresler: I do, actually. I mean each one obviously has its own special sauce
but I feel like For me, the main metric is comfort in my own skin. You know, like for sure that only
gets better and better and easier and more juicy. So yeah, I love, being at this age where I care
a lot less about things that drag me down before.
[00:02:31] Lesley Whitehead: Very common quote of women 50 plus. You get the, I don’t give a
fuck attitude more and more and more. And I’m sure that’s true going into 60, 70, 80, for sure.
[00:02:42] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. I mean, I, it’s funny. I, um, I have like my consciousness
concierging, I have like binders full of articles and poems and things that I tore out in the days
before we could just like clip them. And I remember in my like probably early forties reading an
article in O Magazine about how like menopausal women feel so free. And like the best time of
their life. And I remember thinking at the time in the midst of like, you know, competitive young
parenthood, like I can’t wait for that, you know, and it’s really true.
[00:03:21] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right. I agree.
[00:03:23] All right. So you just brought up, um, the consciousness concierge, and I want, I
would love to hear more about that, but first, before you go into that, please explain to everyone
what ALTAR is because it’s so many things to so many women. I do think it’s very personal, to
me ALTAR is one thing, for someone else it would be another. So please describe ALTAR to everyone.
[00:03:47] Kathy Bresler: Yeah I think that is the beauty and the complexity of it is like, I always
feel kind of like, I don’t know what to say when that’s like, give me the one soundbite. But, you
know, lately I’ve been saying ALTAR is like a sacred clubhouse, for evolving women. My
husband teases me that it’s like Kathy’s Playhouse, like I did make the space that I wanted to be
in, and a place where, you know, women of all ages could come together to connect and to
restore and to explore all kinds of things at the intersection of healing and empowerment.
[00:04:26] And, you know, I think sort of technically, it’s like a third space. You know, if the first
space, I don’t know if you’ve heard that
[00:04:34] Lesley Whitehead: No, I haven’t. I haven’t tell me what that is.
[00:04:37] Kathy Bresler: It’s like the first space is home and the second space is work. It’s like,
we all need a third space. And sometimes that third space is, you know, like Cheers or a park
bench or a coffee shop. Right? And, so ALTAR is in some sense, right? That home away from
home, it’s like a gathering place. and it’s it’s like loosely co working. I’m kind of moving away
from that term because I think it’s really a gathering space for women to come and be fully
themselves and meet other interesting women.
[00:05:11] Lesley Whitehead: I agree. Can you describe it physically a little bit for us? Because
it, to, when, when somebody says workspace or, you know, it just sounds very vanilla and this is
anything but.
[00:05:24] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. So it’s like a 4, 000 square foot multi use sacred space. It is
like, you know, we have a big open studio where we do movement and all kinds of, you know,
we have corporate offsite events and meetings. And then there’s a small cozy room that I named
the Womb Room because that was the coziest thing I could think of. And we have 10 moon
pods in there and bamboo on the walls and you can just cozy up and, you know, meditate or just
hang out in the bean bag.
[00:05:57] And there’s a lounge living room because I ran a women’s group out of my own living
room for many, many years, and I wanted there to be a space like that at ALTAR. And there’s
swings and small offices and more lounging areas and like there’s something for everyone. You
want to be alone and cozy, you want to be, get a cup of tea and have a conversation. There’s a
kitchenette. I don’t know. It is, I often say like if there was a shower there.
[00:06:25] Lesley Whitehead: And there’s a labyrinth.
[00:06:27] Kathy Bresler: Oh, there’s a labyrinth
[00:06:29] Lesley Whitehead: There’s a labyrinth in the middle.
[00:06:31] Kathy Bresler: Down on the floor of the main room in masking tape.
[00:06:34] Lesley Whitehead: I love.
[00:06:35] Kathy Bresler: I just have always, I said in my, in my introduction, which I had
forgotten what I wrote, but like, I do feel like I’ve always been like a mystic at heart. And ALTAR
is, in a lot of ways, a seekers paradise, you know. There’s all sorts of modalities and, uh,
traditions, ways of connecting with something larger than ourself represented in the labyrinth is
one of them for sure.
[00:07:00] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. Okay, um, I’m going to say the things that I love about
ALTAR. Well, first of all, that you have an open house once a month. So describe that a little bit.

[00:07:11] Kathy Bresler: So we call it bring your soul to work day and it is an open house
where, you know, the community is invited. We are very blessed in the community to have just
tons of amazing practitioners who, you know, do all kinds of things from teach how to do social
media well, to like a sound healing.
[00:07:33] And so usually there’s something kind of, educational in the morning and then we do
SoulCollage in the middle of the day and then something more somatic or experiential in the
afternoon and, and, you know, you can come for a little, you can come for the whole day. You
can bring your laptop. If you got to make a zoom meeting in the middle of the day, it’s very
flexible. And, and it’s usually a really great mix of our members and, you know, new people. And
I don’t know, isn’t it fun?
[00:08:00] Lesley Whitehead: It is so fun. It is so fun. And SoulCollage is my favorite part. So,
for those of you who don’t know what SoulCollage is, will you explain it to them, please?
[00:08:09] Kathy Bresler: I will. So SoulCollage is, uh, I did not invent SoulCollage. SoulCollage
is a, I would say it’s like a process for creative self expression that uses, simply uses like
magazine images and your intuition and imagination. And you actually make a set of five by
eight inch collaged cards. And each card sort of represents an aspect of yourself or your soul.
[00:08:39] And over time, you would create a whole deck of cards that are almost like your own,
like Oracle deck, like, but it’s your own images. It’s not tarot or something. And, um, and you can
use it for. I mean, the process itself is so nourishing and creative and fun, but then the cards,
because they’re very Jungian in nature, the whole idea is that images are the language of the
soul, right? So that you can use the card to actually, seek guidance and sort of tap into your
inner wisdom. And they’re, it had me at hello when I discovered it in 2007. And now I’m a
teacher and I have probably 250 cards.
[00:09:17] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. And you were part of my 55 women project and we
photographed you with cards around you. So, I’m excited to share that image with people
because it’s beautiful.
[00:09:26] Kathy Bresler: Yeah
[00:09:27] Lesley Whitehead: So, things that I love about the open house are, um, or about
ALTAR specifically are the, um, ritual stations. Is that what they’re called?
[00:09:36] Kathy Bresler: Yeah, they’re so they are like ritual stations. I think that we don’t really
have like a specific name. Sometimes we call them that sometimes we call them meditative
moments, but they are rituals that were left over from our launch party in 2021 and one for each
of the elements. So, yes, the one that the water 1 that is still. in the hall is also a crowd pleaser,
for sure. It’s really fun.
[00:10:01] Lesley Whitehead: The water one is my favorite. There’s a bowl of water and there
are pieces of paper next to it and you write down something that you want to release. And then
you put it in the bowl of water and you start with the spoon that’s next to it. And it all of a sudden
[00:10:16] And there’s just such a, there’s an action involved with this release of this thing that’s
heavy for you or whatever the release is. I don’t know. I just feel it when I do it. I actually feel the
release of whatever has, it’s been heavy on me and I love that and I’ve never seen that before.
[00:10:36] Kathy Bresler: I hadn’t either. I’ve seen like burning bowls, you know. Uh, but that
seemed dangerous. You know, like where you would write it and then you would burn it. That
was dangerous. We were looking for something like safety first. Uh, for this party, you know, for
this launch and then it and it was so great that we kept it.

[00:10:55] And I, I also do it every time I go into the space. It’s like what needs to just be cleared.
And there is something very satisfying about watching that little piece of paper disappear
magically into the water along with fear or doubt or whatever it is that you’re carrying.
[00:11:11] Lesley Whitehead: The other thing that I love are, um, all of the books that you have.
And as a matter of fact, it was kind of funny when I was there the other day at the Open House,
one of the members had told me that
[00:11:23] Kimothee Joy had come and was, who is a beautiful, um, writer and watercolorist.
Yes, water colorist and, um, and she had created this book and it was called, Wing Women.
Wing Woman.
[00:11:39] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. Extraordinary Wing Woman, I think. Yeah.
[00:11:41] Lesley Whitehead: I wasn’t there, but you still had some of the books so I was able
to buy them. But the reminder was, I was looking through your bookshelf and I saw her cards
and it reminded me that, you know, Lynn had told me about that. So I, you know, immediately
asked you about it. And of course, luckily you had some books, so I was able to purchase those.

[00:12:00] But, so one of the other things I love about, um, ALTAR is the way that you support
women creatives, writers. Um, when I was there, we had a woman who was, um, we were doing
movement and going through what we had experienced in 2023 and what we needed to
release. And then what we were going, what word was coming up for 2024 and it was all in
movement and song and really rich songs like Nina Simone and I mean, just, Enya, and some
very beautiful songs.
[00:12:32] And it was, it was lovely because there was no right or wrong way to move. You could
stay on the floor and stretch. You could twirl, whatever, and release these feelings and let 2024,
the words come to you. And I just thought that was so beautiful. And it was an experience with
this woman who, um, you know, obviously that’s her passion. And then we also had someone
else come and do, you’re going to have to remind me what the name of it is.
[00:13:02] Kathy Bresler: Oh, T R E?
[00:13:04] Lesley Whitehead: T R E.
[00:13:05] Kathy Bresler: It’s like either tension or trauma releasing exercise.
[00:13:08] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. And I had seen those before, um, you know, online, but I
had never experienced it in person. And so she came and she did a very, um, brief, not super
brief, but it was probably an hour long, but it wasn’t a full session because she’s coming back in
January to present a full session to anyone who wants to participate.
[00:13:31] And so we got to experience that. And first, I, I, like I said, I I’m aware of it. I’ve done
it, but there were women in the room who were completely transformed by it because they had
never even heard about it before, which is releasing trauma from your body by shaking. Which
is, sort of like a very basic way to describe it. It’s much more involved than that, obviously, but
that was very cool.
[00:13:53] And then later in the day, which I didn’t get to participate in, but there was a woman
who was going to be presenting, um, Beyond Menopause book. And, um, what I love is that you
are spotlighting these women who are sharing their passions, supporting their businesses and
passions and sharing them with the world of women that you know. And I just think that’s such a
lovely, lovely thing to do. And I know I appreciate it. And I know all the other women do.

[00:14:24] Kathy Bresler: Thank you. Yeah. I mean, it’s funny. Sometimes I describe ALTAR as
a community of exchange. You know, and I really think that’s what it is. It’s like, I love that
women are,
[00:14:33] we’re giving ourselves the opportunity to share what we’re passionate about, whether
it’s our professional thing or just something, you know, we have discovered and love and want to
[00:14:44] And also like the women who are sort of professional teachers, they get to also come
and experience something new and be the student, you know, be the receiver. It’s like that
infinity loop of what women do so naturally and beautifully. Like when they know something,
whether it’s like a cool, a new TV show or a book or whatever, like they just, they want everyone
to know and they share. And that’s how… a big part of how ALTAR has been growing is just from
women like you being like, hey, I love this. People should know about it.
[00:15:14] Lesley Whitehead: One of my, um, goals or intentions in 2024 is to come to every
open house, but bring a new woman with me. And, you know, I’m in the burbs, so about an hour
away, it doesn’t matter to me because I feel like a day aAltarer is such a gift, truly.
[00:15:33] I feel so gifted because the other thing that I love about it is the connections I make
with other women. You know, a lot of time they don’t have anything to do with, let’s exchange
cards and I’m going to hire you. It’s not about that. There are ways to connect, um, on other
levels and help women in other ways. And I don’t know, just feel that, that connection that is
really hard to find right now in the world, I think.
[00:15:59] Kathy Bresler: I am always been a little bit allergic to sort of like traditional
networking things, but there is something very organic about the way that the connections
happen. And I hear that a lot, that women have just like, just having a conversation, they land on
some way in which they can help each other grow their business.
[00:16:17] Or, you know, I just introduced two members who are both going to be moving to San
Diego the other day. I’m so excited for them to meet each other and they just had never crossed
paths. So, it’s the organic nature of the way that that happens while you’re sort of, you’re
[00:16:34] The other thing I hear a lot is like, when it’s sometimes it’s a little hard for us,
especially post pandemic, I think, to kind of, like, get out of the house and, like, go do the things,
even though we want to do them, the nice thing about the open houses, if you can carve out the
day, give yourself a day to do whatever it is you need to do, and it’s so nourishing. And we are
actually committing. I am not a very, um, structured, organized person, but I’m committing to
setting the entire, all the dates for 2024. So that people like you who really kind of have to plan
and make the thing, uh, can know and really, you know, try to, to make it easier for people to
come and experience the space.
[00:17:19] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. That’s fantastic. Do you want to talk, let’s talk a little
bit about the memberships or, you know, how that’s working right now, or is that changing in
2024? Maybe…
[00:17:30] Kathy Bresler: it is changing, you know, it’s funny like because we launched right…
We were supposed to open March 18th of 2020. Uh, and so, like, it has been such a journey
and a lot of it was like, I just, like, made, made stuff up during the pandemic, imagining how
people would want to gather when we could. And so the membership in some ways is just
needed to keep evolving.
[00:17:58] I do feel like 2024, my intentions are to really lean into membership and, and
enhancing the sense of like ALTAR as a membership community and a place where that
interaction and, and a lot more informal. Like, I love the open house and like, there’s classes and

there’s things, but just more opportunities to just like, hang out with each other. Or like, one
of the things I’m dying to do is, um, like a moon pod movie night, you know, just some, some
ways where, you know, you know, it’s happening and you could, uh, weave it in.
[00:18:35] So, but anyway, so the members. At the moment, we have two, two membership
levels. The way I describe it as like our connect level is like a la carte. You know, it’s 33 a month
and you get several free gatherings and access to the space and then a discount on all the
programming. So it’s like you can do as much or as little as you want, but you basically get, uh,
one day a month free in the space. And I do a women’s circle on Zoom first Tuesday of the
month called tend your soul and SoulCollage. And, and, uh, we’re actually gonna be adding a lot
more of these kind of, you know, member benefits, member connection opportunities.
[00:19:20] And then the sustain level is, uh, 222 a month, I think, and that’s more of like the all
you can eat. Like, you want access to the space, you want your own code, come and go as you
please. Know, we I think are going to be, we’re just going to be adding more value I feel like to
the membership. It’s not, we haven’t, it’s been a lot to figure out.
[00:19:45] Lesley Whitehead: Right. It evolves. I mean, you start at one place and then you go,
okay, that’s working, but we need to tweak this. I think that’s true of anything, even products. It’s,
you know, how many iPhones do we have? And you have to also tap into, I’m sure, what the
members are, what’s resonating with the memberships. Right?
[00:20:06] Kathy Bresler: I, yeah. I want it to be a place where you can explore all these
different modalities. Right? Like, I’m very curious. I kind of view it, I’m a curator at heart and this
like curated buffet of things to try. but I, I don’t ever want it to seem too out there? You know, like
that’s my own stuff, but, um, and, and I think we started calling it like a coworking space, but I
think we’ve sort of graduated. Like, it isn’t that. It just isn’t that. People, you can come there and
work and it’s a wonderful place to like work.
[00:20:40] But the whole notion was that it’s very like fluid, like, as women, you can move
throughout your day fluidly from one thing to the next. You could, you know, you know, make a
SoulCollage card. You could get a little work done. You could have some tea and a
conversation. And, and the space is just intentionally designed as a sanctuary to, to do whatever
you need to do. And like coworking just does not do it justice and it kind of puts us in a box.
[00:21:07] So we’re, that’s a big thing. We’re kind of just walking away from and leaning into
what we really are. And we’ve certainly gotten the feedback from women that like, they love
what we are, so like, let’s own it. So I’m trying to step in.
[00:21:20] Lesley Whitehead: And then the other thing is you do rent the space out. So tell me
a little bit about that. How does that work?
[00:21:26] Kathy Bresler: So it’s an unbelievable event space, and my favorite thing to do,
honestly, is to curate for organizations. Whether it’s like a corporate team that wants to have an
offsite where they’ll maybe do some of the work that they’re doing, but then also like, I do
SoulCollage with teams a lot, or, you know, I have a whole like stable of practitioners. So I really
like matching, you know, they do an afternoon sound healing or a human design workshop or
whatever it is. So we do that a lot with, with companies and I mean, it’s kind of amazing. We’ve
had like The Four Seasons and IBM and, Simply Be agency. And, you know, uh, not for profits.
[00:22:06] But we also do. The other thing I love to do is like milestone celebrations. Yeah, I’d
love to do more of that in 2024, like women who are celebrating, whether it’s a big birthday or
like, you know, empty nesting…
[00:22:21] Lesley Whitehead: Like 60?

[00:22:22] Kathy Bresler: Like 60, like 50, like, or, or having a baby, you know, like a blessing
way. Like just, I would love to sort of help curate those sort of meaningful experiences.
[00:22:34] I think that’s another thing that’s happening is like, people don’t really want to go
necessarily out drinking or like, I don’t know, They want meaningful social interaction,
meaningful ways to celebrate. And I feel like the space is ideal for that. So we’re doing more and
more. And that’s, that’s like financially, that’s really what helps us is to be able to do that. But, but
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how, uh, like aligned that organizations are. So it’s like a win
[00:23:05] Lesley Whitehead: Right. And I will speak as a photographer. I have used your
space to photograph in. One of my other clients, um, we photographed in there, Sophia actually,
and, um, it’s a beautiful space to photograph in. So for photographers out there, you, um, might
consider reaching out to Kathy and asking her about that opportunity because it’s beautiful.
There’s so much light. These giant windows, and it just. Yeah, it’s gorgeous in there.
[00:23:33] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. Well, and you know, the other thing we did have one, we had a
production company rent it out to shoot, um, commercial, like a video commercial kind of
commercial commercial. And that I think, yeah, I’d love more of that. You know, it’s like, it’s
really, and there’s so many, don’t you think, like so many moments, so many little like spaces
and beautiful
[00:23:58] Lesley Whitehead: Secret, hidden areas. I mean, even the bathroom was gorgeous.
The um, artwork that’s in one of the restrooms, which is so funny because when you walk in the
restroom, it says, whatever. Not girl, not boy. Heh.
[00:24:12] Kathy Bresler: It’s like whatever, just wash your hands.
[00:24:14] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. But there’s a sign, um, I mean there’s a piece of artwork that
I love, and I’m probably not going to say this correctly, May I Be Kind to Myself as I Become
[00:24:26] Kathy Bresler: That’s what it is. Do you know Kim Kranz?
[00:24:28] Lesley Whitehead: I started following her as soon as I saw that piece of art.
[00:24:32] Kathy Bresler: Right. And she does these amazing tarot decks. And that was like a
poster that came with one of the decks I ordered. And I immediately, I just love that. It’s every
time I see it.
[00:24:43] Lesley Whitehead: I know, I use it in my journaling.
[00:24:45] Kathy Bresler: And I feel you know, in a way that is like encapsulates ALTAR too.
Right. About becoming and growing, but also unlearning so many of the ways that we as women
[00:24:57] Lesley Whitehead: right,
[00:24:58] Kathy Bresler: unkind and harsh and sort of abandon ourselves in the process of
trying to fit in and…
[00:25:05] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Critical, all that.
[00:25:07] Kathy Bresler: Yeah.
[00:25:08] Lesley Whitehead: Okay, let’s go back for a minute to the consciousness concierge.
. I want you to explain that because I love that, um, turn of phrase, but I want to hear you explain

it, please.
[00:25:18] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. So I didn’t, again, like I didn’t make that up. My friend Laura
Berman, actually, we were in a women’s circle together and it’s just something that I kind of do
naturally for myself. I just am very, um, I don’t know. I just take in a lot of inspirational material,
poems, and I don’t I don’t know. I’m always reading and and learning. And then one of my great
joys, we’ll be in a conversation and I’ll be like, oh, leslie, I just read this book and I can give you
that. Here’s a poem that exactly expresses what you’re talking about.
[00:25:51] And, and so this sort of concierging around things that had to do with conscious
growth and development. And Laura, like, just kind of like said that one day. She’s a sex
therapist, and so she’s asked me, do I have any resources for her? And so I started sending her
stuff and I said, am I sending you too much? And she said, no, you’re my. So what did she say?
You’re my soul concierge. No, you’re my consciousness concierge.
[00:26:17] And it really stuck because I, it’s like a funny turn of phrase, but it, it does describe
what I do. And then ALTAR kind of writ large is like concierging all these opportunities for growth
and development and, and expansiveness and it’s just my total joy.
[00:26:38] Lesley Whitehead: Will you go back for a minute and just tell us how ALTAR came
about? Cause we didn’t really talk about that yet.
[00:26:44] Kathy Bresler: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, it has like a series of origin stories. Like all
the way back, uh, in 2005 after I, uh, I had breast cancer when I was 38 and, uh, I was sort of
like on the other side of that. I knew I didn’t want to go back to corporate. I had a friend who at
that was a life coach, which was sort of something I’d never heard of, but I thought, oh, I think
I’m actually a life coach. Like, I think that is the role I play in the lives of the people I know. Right.
So anyway, she offered to like coach me for a while. So maybe I could figure out what I wanted
to do next and also see if maybe I wanted to train to be a coach.
[00:27:22] And one of the exercises was imagine yourself 10 years in the future. You wake up in
the morning. Where are you? What are you doing? What do you see? What’s your work? What’s
your family? And, and, and I just like wrote and wrote and wrote. And, uh, at that point in time, I
was like, I had two young kids. I was like not working. I was very confused about what was
[00:27:44] And I had the most clear vision of like, I am part of this women’s center. And it was
like alternative healing. And I wrote like, we’re on the cutting edge and it’s everything from
quantum physics to like, I listed all these things and I was like, but we’re not quacks. We’re like
the real deal. And, like it wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for me, but it’s like this diverse team
of women of all ages and like, it was just like a very clear vision.
[00:28:12] And then I finished and I thought, well, 1, I have no qualifications to do this, but I’m
like a seeker myself. And 2. I’m obviously going to have to move to California because like, no
one in Chicago in 2005 was interested in that from what I could tell, right? I was still very like,
closeted in my spiritual ness. And so I put it in a drawer and I didn’t look at it again until 2012
when I met five other women, all of whom were like, we need a center in Chicago because
Transitions Book place had closed. I don’t know if you remember Transitions, we were all
missing it.
[00:28:45] Anyway, we gathered a bunch of people. We made the vision board that’s still in the
ALTAR space. We were six visionaries and no doers. And so we have this amazing vision. We
would have these amazing meetings and then like, nothing would happen in between, and we’d
come back together again and we’d have this amazing. Anyway, I was sort of the keeper of that
vision as it fell apart, and I tried multiple different iterations of the center for like 10 years,
including starting a women’s circle in my living room and deciding, you know what, maybe I don’t

need a center.
[00:29:19] And then I, uh, I went to, to seminary, cause I’m interested in all the different wisdom
traditions, a kind of a mystical training. And in the process of that, for an assignment, I had to,
anyway, it’s a longer story, but I, I kind of like got a vision like, oh, I’m gonna, I’m going to take
my, my lift circle, which is my women’s group out of my living room and into a space of its own.
And that I wrote about it.
[00:29:45] And then a couple of hours later, my really dear friend, Heidi Bailey called and said, I
have a weird question for you. Have you ever thought about taking lift out of your living room
and into a space of its own? Cause I just walked by an empty Starbucks and got a hit that like,
you’re going to do that and I’m going to help you. and then that was January of 2019. And it was
like the whole idea just got reborn. And then it became ALTAR. And I found the space in January
of 2020 and, then there was a pandemic and here we are.
[00:30:15] Lesley Whitehead: Wait, so, oh my God, that’s beautiful. How did you manage
through the pandemic?
[00:30:20] Kathy Bresler: Well, so that’s another amazing, I feel like, I don’t know why I feel like
I want a center, right? Like it’s just been in me. Like I, I it’s like a calling. It’s like, I feel like…
[00:30:31] Lesley Whitehead: It’s heart wisdom.
[00:30:33] Kathy Bresler: Like forces want ALTAR to exist and I was like, okay, I’ll make it. I feel
compelled. But then there’s just been all this sort of support. And one of the kind of magical
things that happened is that, um, like before ALTAR, in the years upcoming, I had an uncle, who
didn’t never had any children and, and I didn’t know, but me and my siblings were like the
residual beneficiary. So after they paid everyone else, like whatever was left went to me and my
siblings. So I inherited this like little pot of money that I set aside to finally create the center.
Because one of the issues was like, we could never get funding and blah, blah, blah.
[00:31:14] So I had this money. I’m like, I’m doing it. And so I rented the space and I was like.
Um, what, it’ll take like three months to have revenue. Like I’m good. Well, then the pandemic
happened. But because I had this like chunk of money, I was, and my landlord was incredibly
generous and like lots of good things happened. But I was able to kind of weather the storm
because I had that nest egg. And, um, I feel incredibly grateful because I wouldn’t have been
able to do it and, we’re slowly, like, working to sustainability.
[00:31:49] Lesley Whitehead: Well, and going back to memberships again, I feel like I’ve been
impressing upon the, um, brick and mortar for sure, small businesses that I know to, um, create
memberships, subscriptions, fan clubs, whatever, to continue business. Because business is
very difficult right now. I mean, it doesn’t matter if it’s a brick and mortar, if it’s a service,
whatever, you know, people are hanging on to their money. But we want local businesses and,
you know, organizations to survive. We have to support them in ways.
[00:32:25] So I’ve seen recently three businesses I know just locally here, come up with a
subscription program or a membership program, fan club for 2024, for as little as 19 dollars a
month, who wouldn’t support a business for 19 dollars a month? I mean, there was one that I
didn’t even read, frankly, what I was getting because I didn’t care. I was like, okay, I love this
business. I want to see it continue. This wasn’t a make or break for her certainly, but it, it gives
you a safety net if nothing else.
[00:32:58] And additionally, there’s a writer, Emily, Em and Friends. I’m not sure if you’re familiar
with that card company, Emily. Yes. I can’t think of her name right now, but she owned that
company. She’s since left it and she’s been writing, she started, um, blogging and writing, and at
first it was for everyone. And then she decided to do sort of Patreon account where you pay,
think it was 50 for the year. And you’re in this special group. And again. I didn’t even read it. I

love her work. I’m just thinking, I want this artist to survive. I know she’s not starving, but I want
her to survive and I want her to feel supported.
[00:33:36] So I think memberships are brilliant, brilliant. And I think having memberships at
different tiers is very smart because not everybody can drop whatever 300 at the beginning of
the year for a year or whatever it is. So, yeah, I think that is very, very smart of you.
[00:33:57] Kathy Bresler: I love that. Well, and I, and I do feel like we’re really leaning in to
exactly like just, less of a focus on sort of fee for service, which is not really what we’re about
anyway. Um, and more about, do you want a place like ALTAR to exist? Believe in the mission,
and then you want to come and play and use it in whatever, amazing.
[00:34:21] But we had, you know, right, lots of people at a relatively low level, each individual
person, like it would really go a long way and that’s what we’re trying to, you know, kind of like,
just be really transparent about the message that like, we’ve created something beautiful and it’s
really not about whether you come every day. It’s about, do you want it to exist and be here
when you do want to come or when other, you know, to make it possible for other women to
come. And so, yeah, I, I appreciate you saying that. It’s kind of the direction we’re headed.
[00:34:55] Lesley Whitehead: Good. I love hearing that. I will definitely be a member this year
[00:35:00] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. Yay.
[00:35:02] Lesley Whitehead: And go to all open houses and bring friends.
[00:35:05] Kathy Bresler: I love it. I have to say the other really fun thing that happened at the
open house was several different women who I didn’t know. Right. It stopped being just like
Kathy’s friends, but, um, who were like, three different people told me I needed to come here.
Four different people told me I needed to come here. Like, I it’s hitting the people who belong
and they’re telling their people.
[00:35:25] Lesley Whitehead: Right, right. The other thing that I love about it is, so you have, I
know this is sort of a side silly thing, but you have a refrigerator there so you can bring food if
you want to bring your own food. But then you also have these lovely places to eat locally. And
there’s one that I went to, which I cannot remember the name of, but it’s a Turkish coffee house.
[00:35:46] Kathy Bresler: Oh, Aroma right under the L? Yeah, Aroma Cafe.
[00:35:50] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. Amazing food.
[00:35:52] Kathy Bresler: Layla is the owner and she, all the ALTAR members get 20 percent
off. But it’s just organic, delicious, made with love.
[00:36:01] Lesley Whitehead: I brought a friend, my friend Linda, and we had beet hummus. I
said, Is there any chickpeas in it? It’s completely beet. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever
tasted and they kind of described what was in it. There, there were some chickpeas, but it was
so beautifully plated. And then they have books that you can take if, you know, as long as you
return them. And they have lovely coffee and desserts, we had soup. It was just, it was a lovely
experience and then you walk back and finish your day at altar. I mean, it’s just, that was just
part of the beautiful experience.
[00:36:35] Kathy Bresler: Yeah, it is like a little love affair we have with each other.
[00:36:39] Lesley Whitehead: I know. Because when I was in there, she was saying the same
about you.

[00:36:44] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. No, it’s really, it was really fun to find them right away and and
then supporting other women business. All the things. Yeah.
[00:36:52] Lesley Whitehead: How do you find the women who, for instance, the woman who
was doing the Beyond Menopause book talk? How do you find the women who are coming to
share their, um, creations, their experiences, their passions? Where do you find these women?
[00:37:09] Kathy Bresler: That is one of the like small miracles of ALTAR. On the one hand, I
think I, because of my women’s circle and just who I am my like, I do a lot of I try a lot of
modalities myself. So I do have a pretty wide network of people in the sort of healing, self
growth, space. But they find me. That is the answer. Like I get emails from women all the time.
Like, hey, I do TRE, you know, I heard about ALTAR. I would love to, you know, come and offer
something to your community.
[00:37:46] And the beautiful thing of having the open houses is I have like a place to slot them in
to say, hey, okay, we do this free thing. Come in and, and share it with the community and then
you can offer a paid workshop, but you can introduce it and we can feel if we are a good match
for each other. And so it’s been this, that has been the easiest part of this whole thing. It’s the
constant flow of, you know, women doing interesting things and wanting and being so generous
and willing to share. So I love that. And, uh, yeah, we’re always open to, to being the conduit for
that exchange.
[00:38:25] Lesley Whitehead: I, and I came to, I also went to an event at night. It was a book
talk. The life of me, I cannot remember. But how do you create those programs differentiate from
what you’re doing at the open house? Like, that, that was more of a program. I signed up, I
[00:38:41] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. So we’ve been doing again, like, you know, it’s funny, we, we
get a lot of requests for people who teach things, you know, or who, when, and I always am
trying to like, when women are doing book launches like Kimothee and I honestly don’t
remember if it was Rebecca, cyber, who you attended, but, you know, I’m always love to do that,
uh, and support them. And those are like paid programs and we, you know, sometimes we’ll host
the registration on our website or people do it on Eventbrite. But, um, we offer so many
[00:39:15] Lesley Whitehead: Right, there are new moon
[00:39:17] Kathy Bresler: Yes.
[00:39:18] Lesley Whitehead: events.
[00:39:18] Kathy Bresler: Yes.
[00:39:18] Lesley Whitehead: And so there, it’s sort of a variety of a little bit of everything.
[00:39:23] Kathy Bresler: It’s a little bit of everything. I mean, that is definitely part of my… I
think in 2024, one of the ways that we’re going to make space in a way to focus more on really
enhancing the member community and just a sense of belonging, is to, to shift a little bit of our
focus more toward programming that’s included in your membership that’s accessible and free.
And we’ll obviously still have paid programming, but the schedule has been like kind of insane
and almost too many choices is some of the feedback that I’ve gotten.
[00:39:58] So, um, I really believe in like a, the buffet of options. Like I don’t have a point of view.
I don’t about, I don’t, I can tell you what, what has worked for me, what I have found
transformative or, you know, expansive, but I love to be kind of the like, hey, have you heard of
TRE? Have you heard of sound healing? Like try it out, taste it. You like it. Great. Have another

helping. If you don’t taste something else, you know?
[00:40:25] It’s, we don’t have an agenda around, you know, a curriculum or anything, and it is
very driven by, you know, women who want to share what they know. I don’t go out and find
people. Although I will say one of the things I am most excited about for 2024 is on April 6th,
Elizabeth Lesser is coming to ALTAR. Do you know Elizabeth Lesser?
[00:40:48] Lesley Whitehead: I might, the name doesn’t ring a bell.
[00:40:51] Kathy Bresler: Okay. So
[00:40:51] She’s written a lot of books, but she wrote a book called Broken Open,
[00:40:55] Lesley Whitehead: okay.
[00:40:56] Kathy Bresler: uh, came out just as I was, so it’s probably 20 years ago, just as I
was being diagnosed. She was the founder of Omega Institute in, um, New York, the like
spiritual center. She’s like an amazing author, leader. She, um, for my 40th birthday, I made my
sister and my mom, who are not seekers, go with me to New York to the Omega, like Women in
Power Conference in New York City for three days. And it was like Eve Ensler and Jane Fonda,
and it was all put on by Elizabeth Lesser. And, I’m kind of like a fangirl and the fact that she is
going to be coming to ALTAR
[00:41:34] Lesley Whitehead: Oh.
[00:41:35] Kathy Bresler: to do a talk on her most recent book, which is called Cassandra
Speaks. And it’s all about, like, if women told the story, like, how different history would be. So
it’s very aligned with everything we’re doing. So I hope to do more of those kind of, like,
educational, bring in thought leaders and, you know, women writers and poets and just stir it up
in 2024.
[00:41:57] Lesley Whitehead: Don’t you think it’s interesting? You know, you had this sort of girl
crush on her and now she’s coming to you. I, that was sort of what happened to me with the 55
women. There were a lot of women who, um, you know, I had girl crushes on and I thought, I
don’t know if they’re going to be a part of this program, but you know what I did, I asked.
[00:42:17] So, you know, I think that’s the big thing is that we get so intimidated sometimes by,
or I’ll just speak for myself, by other people’s persona, and they’re just people, they’re just
women, and they want to share their message, and you have a beautiful space, so I feel like
anyone who’s on your top 10 list, top 5 list, I would go after, and you will be surprised, I know
they will say yes. You’ll have to have a two day session because you won’t be able to fit. I mean,
ALTAR is huge, but you won’t be able to fit everybody in there.
[00:42:51] Kathy Bresler: I, really, I want to have a conference like called like women changing
the world and just invite all the interesting, you know, and do it. There’s a lot of women changing
the world. We could do it later, but it’s funny. I was in a, in a, like a workshop, uh, in the
beginning of October. And one of the exercises we had to do was like, imagine, like a dream that
you have, and you had to like, in this little circle, speak about it. It was called future tripping, I
think. And it was like, you had to speak about it as if it had already happened. Okay. And so
people were like, I want to be on Oprah or like, what’s your big dream. And mine was like, I’m
like the hugest nerd fan of We Can Do Hard Things, the podcast. And I’m like, I want Glennon
and Abby and Sister to come to ALTAR. That’s my high dream. We’ll see. I, I, maybe I’ll invite
them. Maybe if they’re ever go on tour.
[00:43:44] Lesley Whitehead: Love that. I love that. Speak it, say it out loud. It’ll happen
definitely. And just ask,

[00:43:51] Kathy Bresler: Yeah.
[00:43:51] Lesley Whitehead: I’m serious. Years ago, the Glennon story I have is somehow I
found her, read her book, immediately Googled her and realized she was going to be at the
Rosemont theater or somewhere locally. And I had no one to go with. And I thought, wow, this is
a really good example of me not surrounding myself with women who are like minded. So I went
by myself. There were women there all in crowds of other women. I didn’t care.
[00:44:21] She, this is quite a while ago when she did, I think her first book tour. And, um, you
know, it was life changing and beautiful, but it also gave me the realization that I had lots of
friends, but that doesn’t mean that you are on the same page with those friends. They can be
your friends, but you might not have the same way that you look at things. Be possibly as open
minded, maybe, about that kind of experience. And, um, it really taught me a lesson about who I
surround myself with.
[00:44:53] And again, not that I’m not friends with those people, but I have to have a group that I
would hey, would you like to go for the day to ALTAR? And they say, yes. Those are the people
that I need to surround myself with.
[00:45:05] Kathy Bresler: I love that. I mean, I love everything about that, that you went by
yourself, that you had that realization, but it makes me realize like that is part of the intention of
ALTAR is like, those women are at ALTAR. And
[00:45:20] ALTAR is such a safe, welcoming, intentional space that you could come alone. You
come alone to the open house. And you would feel like you found,
[00:45:31] Lesley Whitehead: You wouldn’t be alone.
[00:45:31] Kathy Bresler: not like social friends necessarily, they could be, but it’s like those
sort of friends of the heart or friends of the soul or, and of all different ages. And there’s
something so, it feels hard to, like you’re saying, like you can’t just go find those people
necessarily. But I do think that’s part of the magic is, is it has that feeling, the women, it doesn’t
matter. It’s just not about any of the social structures that we sometimes get stuck in.
[00:45:58] Lesley Whitehead: Right. And even physically, we end up in a circle, even though no
one says, let’s make a circle, we always end up in a circle. Whether it’s a circle around the table,
it’s a circle on the floor, we circle, and then there is sharing. There’s always sharing.
[00:46:14] So you’re right. I would go to ALTAR by myself, certainly, and Meet people right away.
Because no one is left standing by themselves, self at ALTAR. You connect with people you
connect with other women And it’s very easy and organic to do. Definitely.
[00:46:31] All right. I before we end our conversation I have to ask you that question that, um,
that I was asking all the women I thought was so interesting. What would people be surprised to
learn about you?
[00:46:46] Kathy Bresler: I mean, the thing I always say, because it does surprise people, but I
am a total, like, sci fi nerd, and I especially am, like, a Star Trek Next Generation, Star Wars fan
from way back.
[00:47:02] Lesley Whitehead: I love that.
[00:47:03] Kathy Bresler: I don’t know why that seems incongruous to people, but, um, I am
like a little, it’s like, uh, I’m a sci fi nerd.
[00:47:11] Lesley Whitehead: It doesn’t seem to me, that it doesn’t fit because it’s otherworldly.

[00:47:16] Kathy Bresler: True.
[00:47:16] Lesley Whitehead: Right. I mean, you know, that’s thinking way outside the box, and
the possibility of all of that. That probably was the seed in the beginning that started all this
questioning and seeking.
[00:47:29] Kathy Bresler: It’s true. Like when I saw Star Wars in 19 whatever it was, you know,
79 whatever year, 78, it was like, I remember thinking very clearly, being like, The Force, that, I
know that’s how it is. Like, I believe that or whatever. It was like, I was just enchanted with the
whole metaphysics kind of of it. That’s really where I started, but then I, I don’t know, I’m just
kind of A Wrinkle In Time was my favorite book. I’m just like, yeah, I like outer space.
[00:47:57] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. Thank you for sharing. All right. This is
what I want you to share with everybody else. Let them know how we find you. What is the best
way to find ALTAR, get involved in the programs, et cetera.
[00:48:10] Kathy Bresler: Yes, so you can find us. Our website is altarcommunity.com. A L T A
R, ALTAR and at altarcommunity on instagram. You can sign up on our website, you can sign
up, we send out a newsletter every week. Like, here’s what’s happening at ALTAR. And I send a
consciousness concierge, kind of my favorite things. And so, yeah, that’s like get on the list and
then come to an open house I think is probably the best way to just feel the people in the space.
And, love to have you.
[00:48:43] Lesley Whitehead: I agree. Kathy, thank you so much for being here. What, I am so
incredibly grateful for you participating in my podcast and, um, being part of my 55 Women
Project. And I am so excited to see what happens in 2024 with you and ALTAR. And I can’t wait
to celebrate your 60th.
[00:49:05] Kathy Bresler: Amazing. Thank you. I’m feel so grateful that our paths crossed and
you thought to ask me and just been a delight,
[00:49:14] Lesley Whitehead: Thank you. Thank you.
[00:49:22] Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found this episode inspiring as
well as entertaining. If you want more out of the box wisdom from boots on the ground, creative,
brave women like this one, subscribe to Her Story So Far podcast wherever you listen, and
please share this link with anyone who needs some inspiration. To receive more wisdom in your
inbox, sign up for my weekly letter at Lesleywhiteheadphotography. com.
[00:49:51] Her Story So Far podcast is produced in conjunction with mad talented executive
producer K.O. Myers at Particulate Media.
[00:50:01] Thank you to all my beautiful bold guests, without them there would be no show.
[00:50:07] Until next time, get out there and make yourself visible to the world. We need you and
your creation. If no one has told you today, you are beautiful.

Her Story So Far

Her Story So Far focuses on outside-the-box conversations with badass female creatives. These women are birthing amazing passion projects in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of their lives. Host Lesley Whitehead is an artist, visual storyteller and multi-passionate marketer. She believes age shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams or make you invisible to the world. Join us to be inspired by the wit, wisdom and one-of-a-kind experiences of these amazing women.

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Intuition, Spirituality, Healing and Sexuality with Sofia Galanis

Intuition, Spirituality, Healing and Sexuality with Sofia Galanis

 My guest on this episode of Her Story So Far is Sofia Galanis, a creative, intuitive, generous beautiful woman with incredibly magnetic and comforting energy. Sofia has explored and healed much of her own trauma by learning to honor herself and her boundaries as she embraced her full self. Now she helps others on their journeys of healing, while continuing on her own path. We’ll talk about her approach to health and wellness, the self love practice she has embraced, and how she helps people find purpose, joy, and creativity in their lives.

 I can’t wait for you to meet my friend Sofia, and hear her inspiring thoughts. Our conversation includes frank discussion of surviving childhood sexual abuse and reconnecting with sexuality as an adult. If those topics don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason, please give yourself permission to opt out of this episode.

About My Guest

Sofia Galanis is a Chicago-based Psychic Medium, Health and Wellness practitioner focusing on health and wellness of mind, body, and spirit.

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Schedule a session at https://calendly.com/sofiagalanis

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[00:00:00] Lesley Whitehead: Hi, beautiful. This is your host, Lesley Whitehead, and I am so excited to share this bold, brave, badass, creative woman with you. I hope our conversation inspires you not to let anything get in the way of your passion projects. I promise you, we need whatever is on your heart to create for this world.[00:00:20] Thank you for being here with us on Her Story So Far. I can’t wait for you to meet my friend Sofia and hear her inspiring thoughts on creativity and spirituality. Before we dive in, I want to let you know our conversation includes frank discussion of surviving childhood sexual
abuse and reconnecting with sexuality as an adult. If those topics don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason, please give yourself permission to opt out of this episode..
[00:00:49] Hi, beautiful woman. I am here today with my second guest, and I am so excited to introduce you to Sofia Galanis. She is a psychic medium, health and wellness practitioner, chemist, scientist, mother of twins, and former clergy’s wife for 20 years. And I would like to add artist, because I have seen her art as well as a chart reader. Because I do know you do that as well, even though it’s not your official title and you’re not putting that forward, that was something you shared with me and I really appreciate it. So that’s who we’re talking to today.
Hello, Sofia.
[00:01:33] Sofia Galanis: Hi, Lesley. Thank you so much for having me on. It is such an honorto be here with you today.
[00:01:42] Lesley Whitehead: I am so grateful. You know, we had talked about you being onthe podcast and we actually were talking about having you later, and then I spoke to you and you said, no, no, I’m ready to come on. So I’m really excited to hear about why, first of all, you
were willing to come on sooner than later. What’s going on?
[00:02:02] Sofia Galanis: If not now, when?
[00:02:04] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. That is such a great, way to think about this and feel about everything, actually, in the world. And especially, you know, one of the things that we’re
going to talk about is being in our fifties. Now, so the first thing I want to ask you is how young
are you?
[00:02:21] Sofia Galanis: I am 50 years young.
[00:02:24] Lesley Whitehead: Yeah, congratulations for joining this party.
[00:02:27] Sofia Galanis: this Thank you. It’s, it’s fabulous. 50 is fabulous. Let me tell you, I am living the best days of my life.
[00:02:36] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, I love to hear that. I really do believe that. And I also believe
it only gets better. Because I hear from women in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and
everybody who is saying the same thing. It only gets better and better. So, fantastic, I’m glad
that you joined this party and… So tell me, so I know you as so many things, and I want to share
all of them with everyone. So tell me first about the medium part and how you realized that this
was a gift that you had.
[00:03:10] Sofia Galanis: It wasn’t something that I had named or labeled or defined for most of
my life. It’s only really been a few years that I have labeled it that as, just getting to know, uh,
other terminology other than growing up in the Christian church tradition, which I did, we really
didn’t talk about things like mediumship.

[00:03:36] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:03:37] Sofia Galanis: And it was so taboo and so forbidden that it just wasn’t something that
was encouraged or talked about.
[00:03:45] But I would say that for me, understanding in retrospect and connecting the dots from
my past and what it means for me today, very early in life, I had several near death experiences.
And I feel like, for the majority of my life, I’ve been bridging both worlds and spirituality has
always been a really important part of my life. And just that connection to, you know, God, um,
you know, growing up in the Christian tradition, I still refer to the higher power as God. Um, I
honor other people’s choices.
[00:04:27] Lesley Whitehead: Lovely.
[00:04:28] Sofia Galanis: And, it just started slowly developing and as I cultivated my spiritual
life on the inside with quiet and meditation and prayer and, um, ritual, which for a long time
looked like going to church, you know, and, and that was part of the routine and the ritual and
the dedication and the devotion and cultivating that connection. And I had so many beautiful
mystical experiences during my time in the church and growing up in the church and all of that
was just such a beautiful connection.
[00:05:12] But I also saw where through my experiences where the church didn’t always have it
right. And not that they were wrong, um, that was just one perspective. And, um, I don’t think
that mediumship is any form of possession. I think it’s just clearing out all the distortions of other
people’s filters so that you can hear clearly. And I think everyone has that potential and that
possibility to see clearly and to know, and I just listen a little more clearly, uh, a little more
intently, that intuitive hit that says, someone crosses through my mind,
[00:06:01] Lesley Whitehead: right.
[00:06:02] Sofia Galanis: to reach out and to say, I’m so glad you called I was thinking about
you. I mean, I needed to talk to you. Or when someone crosses your mind, and then several
minutes later, they call you. I’ve just cultivated that ability to listen and to know that, that means
[00:06:23] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. Okay. I love that. It, does it have to do with energy as well?
Is it an energy, um, feeling?
[00:06:31] Sofia Galanis: We’re all, we’re all energy, right? We’re living, we’re energy. It’s from
the food that we eat to the sunshine. Everything has a frequency and it’s really beautiful
because I really feel that quantum physics is really starting to give us some of the terminology to
explain the unseen forces that so many of us have felt and experienced throughout our lives.
And, that can really be an explanation for energy, frequency, energy medicine, prayer, meditate
the power of prayer. It’s the power of meditation. It’s the power of our thoughts and, uh, the
power of connection with one another.
[00:07:19] Lesley Whitehead: Right. I do feel like there’s something to be said about being
quiet and, and in meditation. And that’s definitely something to help you connect more to your
intuitive. That’s kind of what you were saying before.
[00:07:34] Sofia Galanis: Correct.
[00:07:35] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. Okay. I, um, had an experience, you know, I’ve had many
experiences recently where kind of like what you were saying, where you’re thinking about
someone and then they reach out or, you know, something serendipitous. Is that the word?

[00:07:51] Sofia Galanis: Serendipity is a beautiful word and I love… it’s alignment, It’s where
you are inspired to take action that brings you together with someone else. And I feel that about
our relationship and our conversations where serendipity brings us to have a conversation or to
talk about something or to reach out to one another and we each give each other something that
we really needed to hear. And that to me is God working through each of us.
[00:08:33] Lesley Whitehead: I agree.
[00:08:34] Sofia Galanis: To help support us along our way. And so, um, when we listen to that
little message, to that little voice in our mind that says, reach out to so and so or drive this way
to work today, that’s where the magic happens.
[00:08:50] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right. So when you’re working with someone, what are
you helping them with? Do they come with, um, ideas of these are the questions I have? Or, I
mean, I know I have my experience with you. I’m not sure. So I came. And we did a reading and,
um, is that what you’re calling it? A reading? I’m not sure.
[00:09:11] A session. A session is really what I would call it. And I didn’t come with any particular,
idea except I do think I had something about work. But, how does that normally work? Does
someone come with an idea or is it something that just happens organically with the two of you?
[00:09:30] Sofia Galanis: Sure. So someone comes in with an intention of what they want to
work on or talk about, and that may be something physical because we know that the things that
we haven’t looked at can manifest physically in the body, we’re body, mind, and spirit
[00:09:48] Lesley Whitehead: Physical. You mean physical pain or physical? What do you
mean when you say physical?
[00:09:54] Sofia Galanis: it could be something physically that they’re dealing with. So it can be,
uh, joint pain, it could be, chronic headaches. It can be, it can be any number of things. So some
type of. physical discomfort may come up.
[00:10:11] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:10:12] Sofia Galanis: And by all means, I don’t offer any treatment, but I do find it
interesting that people say, I feel better that my, my knee’s not bothering me. My, whatever the
discomfort was
[00:10:27] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:10:28] Sofia Galanis: tends to be helped or alleviated.
[00:10:31] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. And so it’s, it could be that it could be, but it might not be a
physical pain because I didn’t, I certain that wasn’t something that I felt. Um, it could just be. a
question that you have about life. It could also be just coming into seeing what’s and seeing
what’s coming up.
[00:10:52] Sofia Galanis: Right. So, so I think for me, one of the biggest things is bringing hope
to people, and help helping people find peace and love and compassion in their relationships
and their circumstances and their past and what’s happened in life so that they are free to move
forward in life.
[00:11:15] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right. I think that’s lovely. And then we did do a little bit of
chart work. So do you want to explain that?
[00:11:24] Sofia Galanis: Yeah. So for, for myself and, and I share just what I’ve learned on my
own personal journey, I am by no means an astrologer, but sometimes what I see is I’ll see a

specific planet at play and I’ll say, let’s pull up your chart and I’ll share with you just a little bit of
what I’ve learned and give you some additional resources that you can go listen to or read
about, uh, to understand that more. Ones that particularly come up are Chiron, which is the
Wounded Healer, it’s an asteroid, and it typically indicates your childhood wounding. And, uh,
another one is, uh, the North Node, and it indicates what your soul is here to learn.
[00:12:16] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:12:17] Sofia Galanis: And, so those are probably the two that I tend to see the most
because people are looking for healing from the past, which we all have.
[00:12:29] No one is exempt. It doesn’t matter how much you were loved and how much you
were loved and supported by family or not. Everyone has wounding from their childhood. And so
that’s one piece. But then it’s also, what is preventing you from seeing what your soul is calling
you to do and the work that you’re supposed to do.
[00:12:50] And it’s not all, you know, I’m going to be a star. It can be how you make a difference
just in your community.
[00:12:59] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:13:00] Sofia Galanis: And people know in their heart what that is, but we’re, we’re blinded to
it sometimes, and
[00:13:09] Lesley Whitehead: Definitely.
[00:13:10] Sofia Galanis: we’re afraid, we’re afraid to follow the calling. We’re afraid to follow
our hearts.
[00:13:14] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Well, it’s scary. It’s very scary to put yourself out there and
be vulnerable and say, this is, you know, who I am and what I believe and how I feel and, you
know, how I want to help the world.
[00:13:26] And what if people didn’t, you know, agree? I don’t know. That is, can be very scary.
[00:13:32] Sofia Galanis: It is scary to be seen and heard. And especially as women, because.
[00:13:38] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:13:40] Sofia Galanis: there have been times where we have not felt safe to be seen and
heard. And so this brings me to, to something else that we, that I often talk about with my clients
is boundaries. You know, what, where are the holes in your boundaries that prevent you from
feeling safe?
[00:14:02] And I’ve had to do a lot of this work myself. I grew up in a home with domestic abuse.
And, safety, what has been a huge factor for me, uh, stay, stay small, stay small, don’t use your
voice. Because my father would lose it over what people would say. And so even this now has
been a work in progress to be able to say, this is who I am.
[00:14:33] Lesley Whitehead: Right. I’m sure.
[00:14:35] Sofia Galanis: Your opinion of me is, is just that, your opinion.
[00:14:40] Lesley Whitehead: Exactly.

[00:14:41] Sofia Galanis: And it doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define my, my worth. It doesn’t
define my value. this is me. This is my authentic self.
[00:14:52] Lesley Whitehead: But what, one thing you were saying, um, just made me think, it’s
very easy, I was the first child. So, and only daughter. And so I grew up, you know, a total people
pleaser. Because I was trying to, keep the peace, make everybody happy, fill in, become an
adult before I really needed to be an adult in many ways. And so, I didn’t speak up and I didn’t
have a voice in those ways because I was just spending all my time trying to please everyone
and be the good girl and look like the good girl and all of those.
[00:15:24] Sofia Galanis: Bingo. And that is the key word. Be the good girl and be the good girl
is betray yourself for everyone else.
[00:15:34] Lesley Whitehead: Right, exactly.
[00:15:36] Sofia Galanis: Betray yourself to fit in. Betray yourself to be loved. Betray yourself.
And so many women have this, this message. And not just women. I want to honor men as well
because I’ve definitely met. Men who feel that they have to betray themselves in order to be
loved as well. You know, do everything for everyone. Do it all, and betray yourself and don’t take
care of yourself. And taking care of yourself is selfish. And asking for your needs to be met is
being selfish. And that’s just not the case.
[00:16:14] Lesley Whitehead: Right. And also how much do you, praise do you get as a child
for those things? I mean, I, that’s the reason why you continue to do it, or I’ll speak for myself, I
did was because I got so much praise for it. Oh, look at Lesley. She’s such a little adult. I
remember being told that such a little girl and um, it made me feel good that I was getting all of
this, all these compliments. But it really wasn’t… it wasn’t helpful to me at that age to be, you
know, I should have just been able to be a kid and make mistakes and, but I, yeah, I feel that I, I
totally understand that.
[00:16:54] Sofia Galanis: And for me, it was, if I’m a good girl and if I do this, I keep the peace. I
keep the peace at home. I create a safe, a safe place at home, right? And so I don’t want to
discount this safety piece because I think that that is why we betray ourselves.
[00:17:16] Ultimately, we betray ourselves because it’s not safe for us to be us.
[00:17:21] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Exactly.
[00:17:22] Sofia Galanis: And, and I think that’s part of the human experience as well and I just
want people to be encouraged to be themselves, to be authentic,
[00:17:34] Lesley Whitehead: Yes.
[00:17:35] Sofia Galanis: to belong first to yourself because when you fully love and accept
yourself. That’s when you find your people that’s when you find people that will love, support,
encourage you and cheer you on. Not because you’re cookie cutters of each other,
[00:17:59] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right. Exactly.
[00:18:02] Sofia Galanis: but because your light is so bright that it’s infectious, and inspiring
[00:18:12] and just helps people feel loved and peace within themselves, not because of what
you did for them or what you do for them, but just because you’re present in the moment.
[00:18:27] Lesley Whitehead: Exactly.

[00:18:29] Sofia Galanis: And that’s the magic. That’s taking it back to that serendipity.
[00:18:34] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Oh yeah. I feel that.
[00:18:36] Sofia Galanis: That’s when you’re open to those serendipitous magical moments.
[00:18:40] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right. Boy, it’s hard walking through this world to be there
all the time though, isn’t it?
[00:18:46] Sofia Galanis: It is.
[00:18:47] Lesley Whitehead: With all, everything that we’re inundated with, I think it’s hard to
stay in that, that place.
[00:18:53] Sofia Galanis: The digital age has ushered in a lot of distraction. And there’s a time
and a place for it, but how do we remember what it’s like to connect with another human being?
Because that is something that technology, AI, cannot replace. The, the power of connection
between two human beings, the power of love.
[00:19:21] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:19:22] Sofia Galanis: The power of compassion and the power of presence. And so we use
technology and all of this, these digital marvels. And they are marvels.
[00:19:34] Lesley Whitehead: They are.
[00:19:35] Sofia Galanis: And they are gifts, but how do we come into right relationship with it?
And in my opinion, it’s no different than coming into right relationship with food, with alcohol, or
with any other situation in life.
[00:19:53] Lesley Whitehead: Great. What is the answer? Moderation?
[00:19:56] Sofia Galanis: I think for each person it’s different.
[00:19:58] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:19:59] Sofia Galanis: I think that we each have different careers where we use technology
and digital technology in such a different way,
[00:20:10] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:20:11] Sofia Galanis: but I think it’s the matter of remembering to look at people in the eye.
To see someone’s joy, to see someone’s sadness and the power of, are you okay?
[00:20:25] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. Oh, I love that. I feel that about you too, because when I
met you, there was just some energy right away. I just, I wanted to glom onto you and just follow
you around everywhere.
[00:20:39] Sofia Galanis: You’re so sweet.
[00:20:41] Lesley Whitehead: No, because I feel that sincerity from you. It just feels so genuine
and your energy is so healing just to be around you. I really feel that I do when I’m around you
and those big blue eyes, nobody can see you, but you are of Greek descent, correct? You, your,
your family. Yes. And you are a stunning woman, this beautiful woman with these. Big blue
piercing eyes. They’re gorgeous. They’re just so, and so when, when, when I met you, I just, I
just felt like, who is this woman? I want to be around her. I want to know her.

[00:21:20] Sofia Galanis: Well, thank you so much. I, again, it comes from finding that peace
within me
[00:21:27] Lesley Whitehead: Right, right,
[00:21:28] Sofia Galanis: and, and being at peace with me and being at peace with all of the
different things that have happened in my life. And, life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for
you. I would say that there were different times in my life where that would have been very, very
tough to hear.
[00:21:47] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:21:47] Sofia Galanis: Because it’s really difficult to say, this is happening for me during like
some of the most painful times when I didn’t feel safe, this is happening for me? You know,
question mark. Why? And, but it was happening for me for my healing and it was happening for
me to know that I am inherently safe and protected.
[00:22:17] And that was something that I would say that was lacking. I did not have that sense of
safety for the majority of my life. Because I had given that power of being safe and protected
over to other people. That I was waiting for other people to protect me or to keep me safe. And
when I took that power back within me, it’s like I know what to do to keep me safe. I know what
to do. I am capable of making decisions and placing myself in situations and environments
where I am safe and protected. That was so key, like bringing that back into myself
[00:23:03] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:23:04] Sofia Galanis: has really been a key for just, finding peace within myself and finding
peace for all of the different people in my life who didn’t create situations where I felt safe.
[00:23:16] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. Okay. And was that recent? That you found that?
[00:23:21] Sofia Galanis: Yes. Very recent. Something, something I’ve been working on, I’d say
for the past seven years, but really felt like, uh, I cleaned up all of those holes in my boundary
probably within the past year.
[00:23:35] Lesley Whitehead: Wow. That’s fantastic. So are you able to help other people with
[00:23:40] Sofia Galanis: I love empowering other people and giving them the tools to see
what’s going on in their environment. And so, uh, one of the first tools that I use. You know,
people often talk about they’re having a conflict with someone in their life and it can be personal,
it can be professional. It can be, you know, drivers driving down the street or triggering to
someone, you know, I mean, welcome to the modern age.
[00:24:09] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:24:10] Sofia Galanis: And the thing is, it’s like, it’s understanding. What are they mirroring to
[00:24:15] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, yes.
[00:24:18] Sofia Galanis: Right, and what are they mirroring to you and, what is that telling
you? Is it connected to something you heard growing up? Is it connected to, you know, a car
accident that you had? Is that, what is that connected to? And when you find peace with that,
those situations are not triggering anymore. And so, people mirror to us what we are or what we

[00:24:46] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:24:47] Sofia Galanis: And that second one’s a little tough. You know, I’ll give you an
example, because for the longest time, I was so triggered by people who, by liars. I was so
triggered by liars and gosh darn it, you know, you better believe that I kept attracting liars as
friends. And I was just like, what is this? You know, why, what, what is this? Do I have like,
please lie to me, like stuck as a label to my forehead. Where is this coming from? And, what I
really had to find peace with was where was I lying to myself.
[00:25:32] Lesley Whitehead: Oh gosh, that’s so deep.
[00:25:35] Sofia Galanis: and that hit me like a ton of bricks because of where I was lying to
myself was that I was okay with constantly serving others at the cost of me.
[00:25:50] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:25:51] Sofia Galanis: You know, for the highest good and benefit of all at the cost of me.
And I really had to change that to the highest good and benefit of all, including me,
[00:26:02] Lesley Whitehead: I I love that.
[00:26:03] Sofia Galanis: Because I am a child of God too, and I am worthy of having my needs
met as well.
[00:26:13] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right.
[00:26:14] Sofia Galanis: And so I was lying to myself that I could do it all. I was lying to myself
that I was okay with the table scraps of what other people had left over for me.
[00:26:28] Lesley Whitehead: That’s beautiful that you were able to figure that out and you’re
able to help other people with that.
[00:26:34] Sofia Galanis: again, it’s, I really hope to just empower people to have the tools to
just live with more hope, more love, more self acceptance and more compassion, not just for
themselves, but for others. Because it’s really interesting. Lesley, we do such a great job of
forgiving others and asking for forgiveness
[00:27:01] Lesley Whitehead: We do.
[00:27:03] Sofia Galanis: We do, we do such a great job, but we forget to bring that back into
[00:27:08] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:27:09] Sofia Galanis: We forget to bring in, well, I forgive them, but I also forgive who I was
in that moment.
[00:27:17] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Grace. Exactly.
[00:27:20] Sofia Galanis: Grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness.
[00:27:24] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:27:26] Sofia Galanis: And then the other piece that I feel is, and I, I heard this for a long
time. Be grateful, be grateful, be grateful. And sometimes we look around and during those
really dark moments, and we’re struggling to find that one thing to be grateful for. And not out of.
a lack of desire of wanting to find the grateful things, but more it’s just hard to see it through the

[00:28:04] Lesley Whitehead: Sure.
[00:28:05] Sofia Galanis: But I have found in those moments of confusion to be thankful for
how I’m going to feel afterwards. So, I am so grateful for the opportunity to have touched the
lives of your podcast listeners
[00:28:25] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, I love that. Me too.
[00:28:29] Sofia Galanis: I haven’t done that yet.
[00:28:31] Lesley Whitehead: Right. I see.
[00:28:32] Sofia Galanis: Right. I don’t know who your, your listeners are, but I’m so grateful for
touching their lives. Right. And so it’s something that hasn’t happened yet, but I find being
grateful for what’s coming just kind of brings in just the good stuff.
[00:28:55] Lesley Whitehead: Definitely. That’s beautiful. So one of the things you mentioned
too was self love. And that leads me to the next topic that we were going to discuss that you
said you wanted to share about self love and becoming creative,
[00:29:13] Sofia Galanis: Yeah. So I’ve, I’ve talked a lot about safety and how safety has been
such a theme in my life and not feeling safe. And it was about five years ago
[00:29:31] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:29:33] Sofia Galanis: I had a memory from my childhood returned to me.
[00:29:39] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:29:40] Sofia Galanis: And, it has unfolded to the discovery that before the age of five, I was
sexually abused by two different people and sexually molested by seven different people.
[00:29:51] Lesley Whitehead: Oh my God, I’m so sorry.
[00:29:54] Sofia Galanis: Thank you. Thank you. Um, let me just say, I share that. I’m great. I’m
doing great. I’ve, again, I am living the best days of my life. I have never felt more empowered
and more within myself. And so I share that because it was a discovery. There was so much that
I had closed myself off. I had all of these walls and these boundaries that I had set up where I
was keeping people at arm’s length. And I spent so much time trying to understand what is that?
What am I doing? Why am I doing that? Why is that boundary there? And I was meditating and I
could see it. I could hear it. I could hear what was being said. I could feel how I was being
touched and, and all of the memories came back
[00:30:56] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:30:58] Sofia Galanis: And, it was tough. It was tough to,
[00:31:04] Lesley Whitehead: I’m sure.
[00:31:06] Sofia Galanis: you know, because these were people that my parents had trusted
into our lives and, um, my parents did not know. These people are just masters at manipulation,
right? And, and hiding And secrets. And secrets really take a lot of energy. And they take a lot of
energy out of our lives. And so the challenge when, for me personally, is, you know, I grew up in
a home with domestic abuse and then the sexual abuse, and I really struggled with trusting

[00:31:48] Lesley Whitehead: I can imagine.
[00:31:49] Sofia Galanis: and especially people in authority,
[00:31:56] Lesley Whitehead: have no doubt. Makes. Sense. Yes.
[00:32:00] Sofia Galanis: you know, people in authority and, um, you know, I didn’t trust
therapists. I had tried a little bit of talk therapy after my twin sons were born. And I just didn’t feel
like it helped me with any, it didn’t help me resolve anything. Uh, and so I really struggled with
trusting. And so I went within, I went within to find that piece.
[00:32:29] And, uh, after my marriage ended and my marriage dissolved, I really started to
develop how do I know myself better? And there was all of this shame connected and attached
to my sexuality, my femininity. And the irony is, is that like, I really struggled with touch. I mean,
yes, I would hug people and, you know, and especially my kids and family and things, but I
really struggled with touch and, and so I got into a pleasure practice. And I prefer to call it a
pleasure practice. I know some people refer to it as masturbation, but I think that…
[00:33:16] Lesley Whitehead: I like pleasure practice.
[00:33:18] Sofia Galanis: Pleasure practice it, well, there’s such a negative connotation
associated with masturbation and, and ultimately I think the human body was designed for
pleasure. There’s a reason those pleasure points are there. And so I really just cultivated a
robust pleasure practice, uh, self pleasure practice where I have truly gotten to know myself.
[00:33:47] Lesley Whitehead: That’s fantastic.
[00:33:48] Sofia Galanis: And the beauty is, Lesley, is that with every, with every pleasure
practice, I set an intention. And for the longest time, the intention was for my healing.
[00:34:00] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Oh, beautiful. I love that.
[00:34:02] Sofia Galanis: Right. And, and so, the genitals are connected to the root chakra and
the root chakra is just our safety, our foundation and our security and our stability. And there
were so many things, memories that came up that were just so not connected, even, to my
sexuality, to my femininity, but connected to my sense of safety that would come up and it would
give me an opportunity to rewrite the story,
[00:34:38] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:34:39] Sofia Galanis: right? To rewrite the story of my childhood because I’m an adult now,
and I have empirical evidence that the story that I made up as a child or the story, the
programming that I learned from my family is not necessarily true,
[00:34:57] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Exactly.
[00:34:59] Sofia Galanis: as it was written in my childhood. And so I get to now look at, well, do
I still believe that? Is that my experience?
[00:35:09] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:35:10] Sofia Galanis: What do I believe? What do I want to believe? What feels true for
me? And what feels true for me in my heart? And, and I talk about that and I know that there are
a lot of people in Christian circles, I’ve seen these discussions on social media where they talk
about there’s only one truth and, um, that truth is God’s truth. But if we believe that we’re

created in the image and likeness of God, then we have to trust and believe that we have a
sense of what God wants for us as well.
[00:35:50] And, and I feel like that comes to us through our heart wisdom, through the peace
that we feel in our heart. And that is a big filter for me because our society, we get stuck in our
mind a lot and we disassociate from our body consciousness.
[00:36:07] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:36:07] Sofia Galanis: But when our body consciousness contracts, when we tighten up,
when we tense up and when we contract, that tells me that something’s not necessarily true or I
don’t know all of the truth.
[00:36:22] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:36:23] Sofia Galanis: But, when I’m at peace and my body and my heart feels peace and
my body is relaxed and I open up and I feel expansion and connection with other people. That’s
when I know that I have hit on truth.
[00:36:44] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. One of the things that you had talked about was that
this practice has also helped you in creativity. And I, I’d love to hear more about that.
[00:36:54] Sofia Galanis: Right.
[00:36:54] Lesley Whitehead: And also how that can help other women with their creativity. We
kind of talked about that a little bit.
[00:37:01] Sofia Galanis: Absolutely. So I was studied sciences. I was in the sciences. I have
my master’s degree in chemistry. And, uh, the last time I had taken an art class was I think
middle school. I did not consider myself to be artistic at all. And, uh, as I was cultivating my
pleasure practice, I kept hearing paint.
[00:37:29] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:37:29] Sofia Galanis: I kept hearing paint. And I had so much resistance. Because it didn’t
look pretty. It’s funny how we judge ourselves and we judge everything that we create. But the
art was for me. The art wasn’t for me to, um, share in a gallery anywhere. Uh, the art was for
me. And oftentimes what it looked like was color on a canvas and, um, pushed around either by
paintbrush, but for a long time, I just used a palette knife.
[00:38:08] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. Okay.
[00:38:09] Sofia Galanis: And it just helped me move energy, move emotion, move thoughts
that were stuck. And it was fascinating because so many of my pieces would end up as water,
like water scenes. Right? So choppy waves versus flowing waters versus, you know, blue with,
you know, white glistening accents, versus…
[00:38:44] Lesley Whitehead: When you were painting, did you see that as, were you thinking
this is going to be water or were you just letting the paint flow on? And then when you looked at
it, you thought this is what, I mean, what,
[00:38:56] Sofia Galanis: Great question. Great question. So I would start with a canvas and
the colors that I would start with, there were multiple layers. I would paint upon, paint upon, paint
upon the canvas, multiple layers. And so whenever I felt so inspired, I would go grab any, any
colors, not just colors that you would see in water. And I would just paint and move, move the
colors around on the canvas. And at first I had no idea what they were, what they were going to

[00:39:31] And sometimes I was working with more than one canvas at a time. I would be
working with, four to five canvases at a time. And I was just like, I don’t understand what I’m
doing, but this is how I just followed the inspiration, followed my intuition, followed what I, what I
felt like I was hearing. And I would, um, just move the paint, move the colors around and set it
aside. And when I felt like I was ready for another layer, I would, I would add another layer. And
sometimes I would be working on one piece over the course of a couple of days and just as
soon as it dried, I would be adding another layer, and sometimes even before the layer dried, I’d
be adding another layer. And so it was very, it became very meditative.
[00:40:27] But color has a healing frequency.
[00:40:30] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, I want to hear more about that.
[00:40:33] Sofia Galanis: And I know that as I was moving those colors, it was bringing in the
healing that I needed as well. Green, when you think of like the color green, for example, it
represents the earth and growth and, things provided to us by Mother Earth, right? Like all the
nourishment that we need. Blue represents our expression. It represents truth.
[00:41:03] Lesley Whitehead: Okay.
[00:41:04] Sofia Galanis: You know, red represents love, but it can also represent danger.
Right. So it depends on like, is it blue kind of pink or is it, you know, dark and muddy and, how,
how’s it flowing on the canvas? And so, you know, whether you think of the colors associated
with the seven different chakras, or I know that there are other, there are other resources out
there talking about the frequency of color that it brings in and color therapy that exists out there.
[00:41:42] And so the lesson really for that is, whether it’s for painting or how you decorate your
home or the clothes that you’re wear, you know, sometimes we’re just really inspired. Like, I
know I need to wear that green shirt today, or today I’m wearing this, um, beautiful blue wrap
that I had purchased at Autum’s shop, The Collective Lifestyle Boutique and Makery. And you’re,
you’re drawn to specific colors because it supports what you need at that time.
[00:42:17] Lesley Whitehead: Right. I love that. I’m not familiar with that. I wasn’t familiar that, I
think I knew it, but, um, but I hadn’t heard it in those terms. The colors can be healing,
[00:42:30] Sofia Galanis: Absolutely. Color is frequency. Words are frequency. Music is
frequency. And so when we think about what we’re drawn to in life at different times, it’s
supporting in and bringing to us what we need at that time.
[00:42:49] Lesley Whitehead: Right, right. Well, and I’ve seen some of your work. Is this
something that you’re doing just for yourself or do you think it will be something that you will
share with the world?
[00:43:00] Sofia Galanis: Oh, such a great question. At this time, I can tell you that everything,
most everything that I’ve created to date is very personal. There are gifts that I’ve made for
others where I felt inspired to create art for others, uh, that I have gifted for others. So, uh, right
now it’s still really personal,
[00:43:23] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. Beautiful. I love that.
[00:43:25] Sofia Galanis: But still really powerful, right? And that’s, that is such a tool that
anyone can use at any time for their own healing. It’s available for you. It doesn’t have to be for
public display for, it to be a form of expression for you.

[00:43:45] Lesley Whitehead: Right. And like you said, it doesn’t have to be painting. It could be
writing. It could be creating music. It could be taking photographs. It could be, whatever.
[00:43:56] Sofia Galanis: Knitting, sewing. It could be.
[00:43:58] Lesley Whitehead: Exactly.
[00:43:59] Sofia Galanis: It could be cooking
[00:44:01] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. Cooking. Cooking is, I love cooking.
[00:44:05] Sofia Galanis: Is such a creative outlet, right? I mean when you look at foodies and
what they create,
[00:44:11] Lesley Whitehead: Yes.
[00:44:12] Sofia Galanis: It is such a creative process.
[00:44:14] Lesley Whitehead: It’s art. It is. It is. My daughter last night made, she’s out in
Denver, but she made a spinach pie, which I had never thought about making. Shared the
recipe with me. It was beautiful. It looked like a piece of art. It really did.
[00:44:30] Sofia Galanis: That’s awesome.
[00:44:32] Lesley Whitehead: I know. I love that. So well, first of all, before I ask my last
question, is there anything else that you wanted to share? Any wisdom, anything that’s coming
up that you feel they need to hear? Our audience.
[00:44:47] Sofia Galanis: What I really want to share is that
[00:44:49] sometimes we carry other people’s emotions. And for me, I was holding on to a lot of
people’s shame and I thought it was my shame.
[00:44:59] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:45:00] Sofia Galanis: I thought I had to be ashamed of my sexuality. I thought I had to be
ashamed of my femininity. There were so many messages that I received where being a woman
and being feminine was weakness.
[00:45:15] Lesley Whitehead: Right, right.
[00:45:16] Sofia Galanis: But there’s strength in our femininity and that strength comes from the
ability to create. Because that is something that women can do that men cannot.
[00:45:30] And not that they can’t create art, create music. It’s just very different. But, a woman’s
creative life force center has the capacity to just create life,
[00:45:44] but it becomes something so much greater when it is balanced with that ability to just
receive and relax and be nurtured and nourished and be inspired. The ability to receive that
inspiration, to be a vessel for allowing that creativity and that inspiration to grow and develop
and to be birthed, I think, is just something that women possess that is so powerful that cannot
be matched by men on their own. I think men have other strengths.
[00:46:32] Lesley Whitehead: Right.
[00:46:33] Sofia Galanis: But I think that this is something that’s just really powerful, and for
women to take that energy back that they’ve given away to all of their partners, former partners

that they’ve ever been with. To get back that power to create and their worthiness of creating,
uh, not just human beings, but their legacy. Their legacy of love, their legacy of compassion,
their legacy of art, their legacy and the, and the footprint of, of what’s here on the planet and
how women have transformed the world with what they’ve created and brought into it.
[00:47:15] Lesley Whitehead: I love
[00:47:16] that. That’s beautiful.
[00:47:18] Sofia Galanis: Being a woman is strength.
[00:47:20] Lesley Whitehead: It is. We need to harness it.
[00:47:23] Sofia Galanis: That’s right.
[00:47:25] Lesley Whitehead: And own it.
[00:47:26] Sofia Galanis: You know, our feminine energies receive and our feminine energies
inspire the masculine. They inspire action. Like, so we need that harmony and that balance
between our feminine energies and our masculine energies. And then, likewise, as women with
the men in our lives.
[00:47:48] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right. One other question I want to ask you, and you are
part of my 55 women project, which I didn’t mention at the beginning, but when I had met you, I
just thought, oh my gosh, this woman needs to be part of my 55 women project. Cause she is
such a badass. But one of the questions I asked, and I loved getting all the answers for was,
what is one thing that, um, people would be surprised to know about you?
[00:48:14] Sofia Galanis: Good question, Lesley. First me just say it was such an honor to A,
work with you to be photographed. You are such an amazing photographer. I had such a
wonderful time. Thank you. I love my photos. So excited about them, and they really helped me
feel beautiful.
[00:48:38] Lesley Whitehead: Oh, thank you so much. I’m so glad. That is my goal with
everyone I have the honor of photographing, is feeling like you see yourself, who you are, you
feel beautiful and you recognize yourself. In a very beautiful way, so thank you for that.
[00:48:56] Sofia Galanis: You’re welcome. So I already feel like I’ve shared some things in this
podcast already that I don’t think very many people really knew about me.
[00:49:05] Lesley Whitehead: Well, then maybe the question’s been answered. Maybe you feel
like the question’s already been answered and it doesn’t need to be answered again. Okay.
[00:49:12] Sofia Galanis: I do.
[00:49:13] Lesley Whitehead: That’s very fair. Oh my gosh, Sofia. I am so grateful that you sat
down with me here today and shared all of your heart and soul. And what you’re offering to the
world and the beautiful lessons that you’ve learned about yourself, and the feminine parts that
we need to recognize in ourselves. It just really resonated with me. I know it’s going to resonate
with everyone else out there. And, um, I also hope that everyone takes, um, an opportunity to
start, um, doing that self pleasure practice?
[00:49:54] Sofia Galanis: Everyone needs a pleasure practice, whether they’re there, they’re
with a partner or by themselves. Because there is a self awareness that comes from your own
self pleasure practice. And so, um, there is something so valuable and honorable to the human
body. And, we all need more joy and, and pleasure in our lives. And it’s just about finding the

right balance. And so, um, go discover yourself.
[00:50:29] Lesley Whitehead: That is a great, a great ending, my friend.
[00:50:34] Sofia Galanis: Thank you so much. It has been such an honor to work with you and
to be a guest on your podcast. I wish you so many good things. And I wish so many good things
for your listeners as well. And thank you for the opportunity to allow me to be seen and heard.
[00:50:56] Lesley Whitehead: Thank you, Sofia. You are a beautiful woman.
[00:50:59] Sofia Galanis: You are too.
[00:51:01] Lesley Whitehead: Love you.
[00:51:02] Sofia Galanis: Love you too.
[00:51:07] Lesley Whitehead: Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found this
episode inspiring as well as entertaining. If you want more out of the box wisdom from boots on
the ground, creative, brave women like this one, subscribe to Her Story So Far podcast
wherever you listen, and please share this link with anyone who needs some inspiration. To
receive more wisdom in your inbox, sign up for my weekly letter at
Lesleywhiteheadphotography. com.
[00:51:36] Her Story So Far podcast is produced in conjunction with mad talented executive
producer K.O. Myers at Particulate Media.
[00:51:46] Thank you to all my beautiful bold guests, without them there would be no show.
[00:51:52] Until next time, get out there and make yourself visible to the world. We need you and
your creation. If no one has told you today, you are beautiful.

Her Story So Far

Her Story So Far focuses on outside-the-box conversations with badass female creatives. These women are birthing amazing passion projects in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of their lives. Host Lesley Whitehead is an artist, visual storyteller and multi-passionate marketer. She believes age shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams or make you invisible to the world. Join us to be inspired by the wit, wisdom and one-of-a-kind experiences of these amazing women.

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