Rest in Peace, Tony Taylor - The Long Voyage Home

In 2018, we had the extreme privilege of interviewing Tony Taylor, an author, pilot, and interplanetary navigator. He navigated to every planet in the solar system and was an extraordinary human. Sadly, he passed this August, following his battle with cancer. 

In honor of Tony, we've decided to offer his full, extended Patreon episode for free to the public. Thanks to our Patrons for making the original interview possible, to his sister, Lynn Taylor, for making our introduction, and to Tony, for his unabashed spirit and love of life which he so generously shared with us. 

If you'd like to share it with anyone, please pass along the original link here:


Katie Weatherup (LITE) - Shamanic Healer

We've so been looking forward to this episode with Katie Weatherup, the incredible engineer turned shamanic practitioner of Hands over Heart. Katie talks about her journey from being an energetically sensitive child to transitioning to the work of shamanism, seeing consistent results across the board of her clients being healthier and making more holistic choices. She's super open, vulnerable, and shares with us a way to retrieve parts of our souls we’ve lost along the way.

For more about the story behind her books, including Sex, Shamanism, and Healing: My Kissing Quest, the role spiritual health plays in our lives, the need to approach change with compassion and more, catch the uncut, ad-free version at I hope you enjoy meeting her as much as I did.


Show Links: 

Michael Harner, founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies:
Katie Weatherup’s Shamanic Healing website:
Fire Ceremony:

The work of Byron Katie - A Mind at Home with Itself: How Asking Four Questions Can Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Turn Your World Around

Debbie Ford’s The Dark Side of the Light Chasers

Today we get to sit down with Katie Weatherup. One of my closest friends, my weekly accountability partner, and my sister in the short film Stealing Zen is Katie's cousin Christine Weatherup, and I'm so grateful she thought to make this introduction.

As a gifted intuitive and highly trained healer, Katie Weatherup has helped many on their personal paths by using the healing power of Shamanic journey & soul retrieval.

Believing that gurus are no longer a good fit within our modern culture, she teaches each person to trust themselves to be their own best expert. Katie is the author of Practical Shamanism: A Guide for Walking in Both Worlds, Sex, Shamanism, and Healing: My Kissing Quest, and Sacred Travel: Practical Shamanism for Your Vacations and Vision Quests.

She says that working as a mechanical engineer, she has always understood the necessity of system integrity. The human spirit is a highly complex system, which can break down in complex and subtle ways. Much of her Shamanic work is oriented towards wholeness. She helps people find their way back to themselves, all the parts they've lost, forgotten, denied and disowned. She love the elegance, simplicity and power of soul retrieval. It is deeply rewarding to know that an hour of her time is often life changing for her clients, affording them unprecedented levels of wholeness and right relationship to the universe. 

Show Summary:
I'd love to hear about your upbringing. What were your early years like?
Really great. Katie had very kind parents, who she says weren’t as energetically sensitive like she was, so her culture didn’t really have a reference for her particular struggles. When Katie was surrounded with a lot of people and feeling overwhelmed, she says she reacted by delving into her studies, becoming “queen of the nerds,” an academic decathlete for two years in a row. She lagged behind in her social and emotional skills and had to work on them as she got older, got her engineering degree, and then got into being a Shaman through a bit of a circuitous path. 

What can you tell us about Shamanism and its role in your life?
Most people don’t know about it. Although it’s becoming more popular, when Katie wrote her book, it sold very well because there weren’t a lot of options at the time. She describes four different quadrants of human experience: mental, physical, emotional, and energetic body. In our society, we’re biased toward mental body. We’ll have classes in trigonometry but not emotional intelligence. We work on physical fitness but don’t know to look for physical cues of stress. Once we get past the mental, physical, and finally emotional bodies, most people don’t know about or believe in an energetic body. Although you can get along without thinking about it, people like Katie, who are energetically sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others can have a tough time. It was so overwhelming to Katie as a child that she dissociated.
What she would say about Shamanism is that it’s a body of knowledge that can be applied, just as Buddhism is another system to address the inner aspect of who we are. Her tradition of Shamanism was fathered by Michael Harner, who studied indigenous cultures, as an anthropologist, all over the world, many whom had no interaction with one another. He noticed major commonalities among their traditions: power animals, soul retrieval, listened to a drum or did certain things to alter their state of mind, and a human in the tribe who could be an intermediary, talking to the guides to get information to bring back for the well being of the tribe. 

Katie especially appreciates the way Core Shamanism goes beyond cultural appropriation to what is universal across different cultures and time, before the introduction of Christianity in particular. Michael Harner distilled it and figured out a way to teach it, and one can go to the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and take a class. She finds that it’s an excellent compliment to modern society that helps us focus more on being whole.
For people who question whether you’re talking to actual spirits or an aspect of yourself, Katie says that as a teacher, she doesn’t mind if her clients see it as a way to talk to their inner selves or as a framework to talk to masters from their religions. She sees consistent results across the board of people being healthier and making more holistic choices.

Shamanic journey and soul retrieval. Those are completely new concepts to me, and I imagine much of our audience. What are they?
Shamanic journey is about going into an altered state to gain wisdom from that state. It might be produced by listening to a drum beat, since many traditions use a specific drumbeat to create theta waves that allow people to access this altered state of awareness. People also use plant medicine, circular breathing, ecstatic dance, fasting, etc. Katie says there are many ways to relax your hold on the present moment and allow yourself to go somewhere else. Because some people are very connected to their guides, she says occasionally they’ll discount their guidance because they’ve already heard the answer in so many different ways, and it sounds too familiar. Katie’s practiced Shamanic journey for 18 years, and she loves being able to talk to guides.
Katie doesn’t necessarily think it’s for everyone, unless they’re drawn to it, but she wishes everyone would have a soul retrieval, where someone qualified is working on their behalf. Like the other Shamanic practices, it’s a universal concept that when we go through trauma, we lose parts of ourselves. Psychologists call it dissociation, and Shamanic practitioners call it soul loss. She starts by explaining that the soul transcends the human experience. When people go through a traumatic experience, the last thing they want to do is be fully present, and dissociation is a common tool, especially with children experiencing trauma. Once that part of you has dropped out, Katie says it doesn’t know when it’s safe to return.
We also give parts of ourselves away in relationships. She says that in our culture (think Jerry Maguire), we often give away parts of ourselves to each other, and in a way, it can stabilize the relationship. Although it’s not so bad when you’re with the person, we forget to get those parts back after a breakup. She often finds that people still have close energetic ties to long-ago exes. When she does soul retrievals, she connects with the person and then goes to find the lost parts of their essence, from past traumas or relationships.
When she first experienced her own soul retrieval (with her mother, actually), she realized within a day that if she were able to do only one thing with a client, she’d want it to be soul retrieval, because it can change things for the person within a single session. She loves to make the foundation of who they are available to them, finding it incredibly powerful, especially for people who’ve experienced major traumas in their lives. Often, people who’ve done a lot of work in therapy and traditional healing can work very effectively with the parts they have left, but she finds it so much more powerful for them if they can get all their essence back. Although she encourages anyone who wants to explore Shamanic journey to go for it, she really sees soul retrieval as her core, most powerful practice for people who need healing.

Now you mentioned it can be a drastic, quick change... Can 1 session be enough?
She designs her soul retrieval practice to be one session, unless she’s working with someone who’s in the top 90% of people who’ve experienced severe trauma. For that 5-50% of her clients, she does two sessions. She says it’s very unusual, but she values people’s time and efficiency, and Katie appreciates that her guides help her to do what she calls a “thorough wrangling” of soul parts left behind. On the topic of rapid change, she has people read an article beforehand about how such quick healing can cause disruptions in relationships that may no longer be sustainable. Likewise, if you have an unhealthy work environment that matches your family of origin, for example, cleaning up the core wounding around the family of origin could suddenly make you incompatible with the unhealthy nature of the work environment. 

Can you give us an example or walk us through a brief introduction or exercise?
Although Katie admits brevity is not her superpower, she talks with us about fire ceremony, also posted on her website in detail

How did you decide to write your first book?
Katie was in the shower one day, when she says her guides told her to write a book, even though at the time, she didn’t feel ready. As she started to write, one chapter at a time, she realized she had a tremendous amount to write and credits her editors for its quality. For those wanting to write a book, she says to remove the critic from over your shoulder and make a deal with yourself about being vulnerable and exposed - that it’ll get an edit, and you can talk with your critic later. Unlike previous times in human history, although people might think she’s “woo woo,” she’s not putting herself in mortal danger of being burned at the stake, etc, and she had to remind herself of that.

Other than your inner work, do you have any habits or traits that have contributed to your happiness and success?
Katie’s really good at seeking out her own healing work, energetically. “I think getting feedback from another person is a really important piece because we can’t see our blindspots.” She wants to make sure she’s able to use her tools as a practitioner in order to grow, not in order to stay stuck.
She also notices a huge difference in her agreeableness when she’s able to enjoy her hot tub under the stars on a regular basis. 

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, through your eyes, what would it be?
People are so hard on themselves. Katie references a TED Talk by Brené Brown about shame and vulnerability that currently has almost 8 million views, and how it’s clear that people have a hunger to get rid of shame. She says the problem with exposing our vulnerabilities is that we often get accurate mirroring that small infractions are just that, in the grand scheme of things. For example, a public figure who makes a small sensitivity infraction and then is publicly shamed. She thinks the work on our own (shadow work, sash calls it), is universally some of the most important work we do, including soul retrievals and Maitri (Pema Chodron) - an unconditional friendliness with oneself.
For those moments when you can’t let go of a past shame, Katie recommends a shamanic practice called the transmutation breath. Rather than avoiding the emotion, breathe the feeling of that experience into your heart, and then exhale as neutral energy. She compares the way we organize our energy like the organization of a house of cards, that can’t really be used for anything else until you knock it down, breathe through the feeling with awareness, start at neutral, and allow yourself to build something new. It’s a practice, something to build and exercise.
Katie discusses how our need to protect ourselves from mortal danger in the past as a species has translated into our need to avoid unsettling emotions in the present. Where the intention to be compassionate with oneself might not transform as effectively, the practice of the transmutation breath can be incredibly transformative. The fire ceremony is similar, but more formalized, and the breath is something that can be accessed right in the moment. 

Katie, thank you so much for being with us today! And thank you for joining us today on the Peace of Persistence. If you found us on the LITE version, we're glad you're here. If you want to hear more from Katie and all our guests, you can find our extended versions on patreon - at It's also a great way to support the show, if you like what you see and hear.

It's been an incredible season so far, and I'm so grateful for each guest on this show and how much insight they bring. Thanks for joining us, however you've found us, and we'll see you next week on The Peace of Persistence for more discussions on how to find the happiness and success in all our lives.


Carin Gilfry (LITE) - Voice Actor, Singer, Wearer of Many Hats


Voice actor and singer Carin Gilfry has always been happy. Today, she shares with us how getting locked in a closet led to an episode of This American Life, designing the perfect career to fully enjoy new motherhood, her habits of forward-thinking and taking small steps toward any goal, and more. Uncut version available at

Show Links:
This American Life - Carin Gilfry’s Radio Drama Episode (on YouTube):
(podcast version):

Rosie’s Place web series:
(on YouTube):

Former Juilliard guests -
Camille Zamora (full video):
(audio podcast):
Nicholas Pallesen (two part video):
(two part audio):

Guest Intro: 
Carin Gilfry is a voice actor, singer, audio engineer, coach, composer, and producer. Her voice appears in commercials for, Little Tikes, Jakks Pacific Disney Dolls, Luxury Retreats, Emblem Health, Audible, and many more. She has narrated and produced over 100 audiobooks, and has recorded voice over for hundreds of eLearning projects, IVR systems, training videos, and documentaries. She plays characters in the video games Heroes Charge, Warframe, and Heroes of Newerth. She has been coaching and teaching classes in voice over since 2013.

Carin holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the USC Thornton School of Music and a Master of Music in vocal performance from The Juilliard School. She has performed with symphonies and opera companies around the world including the Los Angeles Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Le Theatre du Chatelet, New York City Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, The Phoenix Symphony, The Santa Fe Symphony, The California Philharmonic, and the Chorale Bel Canto.

She has composed theme music for 50+ audiobooks, and written children's songs for her YouTube series Rosie's Place.

Thank you: 
Thank you for joining us on The Peace of Persistence. I LOVE coming to you each week with these amazing guests, and I hope you're enjoying it too. I can only keep going with your support, so if you like the show, I'm going to ask you today to do one of three things. Ready? Ok.

1. You can review us on Apple Podcasts or imdB.

2. Take a minute to think. Who do you know who is happy, satisfied with life, and has had some success? Introduce us to them or them to us. We're at and

3. Go to It's where you can support us for only $2 per episode for ad-free episodes with 2-3x the content.

That's it! Pick one of those three actions if you like this show. For those of you who've already done one of those things, you are are my heroes, and the show has been able to keep its momentum because of you. Thank you! And thank all of you for joining us each week, no matter what version you enjoy. We'll see you next time on The Peace of Persistence for more great content to help all of us find the happiness and success in our lives.

A Little Change Can Be Good


It's time for a bit of a change. We're changing to a bi-weekly format, to allow for more time to grow our audience, interview more guests, and continue producing a high quality show while living a high quality life. :)

So - we'll be back next week, Thursday, April 5, with a fantastic video interview with voice-over artist, coach, and opera singer Carin Gilfry. She's the best!

In the meantime, if you haven't caught our interview with Bryan Stacy, founder of biem, good news! You can watch it this Sunday, April 1 (no joke) on Manhattan Neighborhood Network - MNN's lifestyle channel 2 at 1:30pm. 
For everyone, livestream at
For Manhattan, watch on Fios : 34, RCN : 83, & Spectrum : 56 & 1996

Tony Taylor (LITE) - Interplanetary Navigator, Pilot, and Author


In this episode of The Peace of Persistence LITE, Tony Taylor brings his wisdom as an Interplanetary Navigator, Pilot, and Author to the forefront, as he talks about taking risks, navigating to all of the planets in our solar system, using fiction to write “the bigger picture of truth,” and seeing the world from a wider perspective.

Join us at to hear Tony's deeper understanding of war, his perspectives on racism, growing up during segregation in the Deep South, his greatest joys, and more. You can also hear more from all of our guests and support our show there, at Patreon.

Show links:
Tony Taylor's books: Counters, The Darkest Side of Saturn, and Black Sky Voyage (to be published later this year)

Tony's website:

Tony's Inspirations -
Ernie Pyle's WWII war correspondent articles -
Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World
George Orwell's 1984
Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End
Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

Tony Taylor was a space cadet before there was a space program—meaning that his mind was in space while his body walked the earth. He decided early on that he wanted to be an astronaut. Fortunately, the space age came along with the launch of Sputnik in 1957 while he was still in high school, and his dream entered the realm of the possible.

Knowing that astronauts usually start as pilots, he went to the US Air Force Academy, followed by pilot training, and eventually found himself in Vietnam flying 100 combat missions over North Vietnam through some of the best air defenses the world had ever seen. During that time, he became a war correspondent for his hometown newspaper. The articles he wrote would later lay the foundation for his first published novel, Counters, in 2008: a tale of young pilots, the Red Baron, and a collie named Sub-Lieutenant Sam. After returning home and spending a few more years in the Air Force, he resigned to go to graduate school, finishing with an M.S. in physics.

These experiences equipped him, he believed, to follow through with his astronaut dream, which included becoming the first person to walk around on Mars. After several applications to NASA, followed by several rejections, he decided this was not to be, so he consoled himself with the next best thing: working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and KinetX Aerospace, Inc. to navigate unmanned NASA spacecraft through the solar system. He visited (metaphorically) all eight planets over the course of a thirty-year career, navigating spacecraft on projects Voyager, Cassini, Mars Polar Lander, Galileo, and MESSENGER among others. As a capstone, he also helped navigate the New Horizons spacecraft to minor planet Pluto.

These experiences helped provide underpinnings for his second novel, The Darkest Side of Saturn, in 2014: a story of an asteroid, a preacher, a reluctant prophet of doom, and a ballerina—things that naturally go together. His third novel, Black Sky Voyage, is targeted for release later this year (2018). It provides a vicarious substitute for his astronaut dream; instead of walking around on Mars, he writes of the first colonists on Mars in a tale that includes a president, nuclear annihilation, and a polite alien.

A scientific and objective realist, he nevertheless enjoys evoking the mystical in his novels, salting liberally with whimsical humor. His published works have collected several honors, including the international Eric Hoffer Award: First Place Winner for Genre Fiction, and Short List for the Grand Prize; the Arizona Literary Contest: Book of the Year Award; the Books and Author Award: Winner for Science Fiction; the Global Ebook Award: Silver Medal Winner for Science Fiction; and various Honorable Mentions and Finalist awards.

Tony lives with his wife Jan in Sedona, Arizona. He is proud of his two daughters and two grandsons. Between travels and tennis he hopes to produce a few more novels before launching on a black sky voyage into the great unknown. He may not be the only interplanetary navigator in Sedona—land of vortices and UFO enthusiasts—but he’s probably the only one who actually worked for NASA.

Thank you!
If you enjoyed this episode, check out our extended version, with a full show summary, at for even more great insight from Tony Taylor and all of our guests. We still would LOVE to hear how you're enjoying the show - so just head on over to Apple Podcasts, search for The Peace of Persistence in the iTunes store, and leave us a review. We'll be sure to thank you on the next episode. Thanks again for joining us as always - stay tuned next Thursday for another great interview to help all of us find more happiness and success in our lives.

Bryan Stacy (LITE) - Co-Founder & CEO of Biem


Bryan Stacy's an expert on sexual health and having tough conversations, and he's making it easier with the world's first virtual sexual health clinic, Biem. Today, he discusses his battle with testicular cancer, the app that's helping to make awkward conversations easier and behavior better, a new mindset about masculinity, and the importance of connecting with others.
***More at - including ways to be more authentic and attract what you want in life, how to break the ice on having awkward conversations, the importance of rituals and being alone with your thoughts, and more. 

Show links:
Biem -
Bryan on Instagram -
Bryan on Twitter -
Bryan's blog (primarily focused on his chemotherapy journey) - One Big Nut -

For the extended episode and a full description of the show, or just to support the show, head over to our portal on Patreon at

If you enjoyed this episode, take a minute to share us with a friend or review us on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or Imdb. Every share and review – or even rating – helps new people discover our show. Also, if you know anyone who's extraordinarily and genuinely happy who has had some success in their lives, if you think they'd be a good fit for our show, let us know at

Thanks, and we'll see you next Thursday on The Peace of Persistence.

Wempy Dyocta Koto (LITE) - Investor & World Traveler

Hi, and welcome to the Peace of Persistence, the show where we seek to uncover the keys to happiness and success, one honest conversation at a time. I'm your host, Abigail Wright, and today we get to talk with my old friend, Wempy Dyocta Koto! Wempy. I met Wempy, who was beginning his entrepreneurial journey in 2009. Today, he's primarily in investing, and we're finding out what he's doing as I'm catching up with him today!

Bonus Content:
Join us and subscribe at Patreon to hear the extended version (for all our guests!), and hear how Wempy's parents intuitively molded him into the man he is today, the benefits of martial arts and training physically, the art of true charity, and how to leave a real legacy in life with your family. 

Show links:
Muay Thai, MMA & Fitness training Camp Phuket Thailand

Our Full Versions on Patreon

Review us on Apple Podcasts:

Review us on IMDb:

Show summary:
We first met almost a decade in NYC, and I haven't seen you in person since we last caught up in London back in 2012. How has life changed for you during that time on your journey?
Wempy describes his life as going through abrupt changes every 4-5 years, often involving moving from place to place, for example, from Singapore to London. He says there are no small evolutions in his life - it's either an abrupt change, or no change at all. When were first met, in 2009, Wempy was living in the States in New York and San Francisco, and then he moved home a bit with his family in London. After that, he decided to move to Jakarta in Indonesia and says nothing in his life is ever permanent. In that short time, he's gone from being an employee of a corporation, to being an entrepreneur in consulting, which he eventually evolved into doing mostly investing.

Are you still working with the company you founded, Wardour and Oxford?
Absolutely. He says that's where he does a lot of his "brain work." He does still work with governments, large, multinational companies, and rising and emerging companies on the consultancy side. He realized that consultancy doesn't scale quickly and decided to instead invest his money into companies that were scaling. He gives the analogy of being the chip inside of the computer that provides the financial support, advice, mentorship, and guidance to help evolve their companies. He doesn't enjoy the daily grind and wants to be where his ideas are needed, so that's where he spends a lot of his passion and therefore, a lot of his time.

I read an interview you posted on Linkedin with Suzanne Kaplan, where you said, "Our time on earth is not negotiable," referring to your business and the fact that you love your work, clients, and partners. What are some of the most important things you do to make every moment count in your life?
He says whether you believe in a supreme being or not, when your time is up, your time is up and not negotiable. He simply tries to live every second in the moment. He believes that the happiest people live with a conscious sense of living on purpose, with gratitude for yesterday and purpose for today and tomorrow.  "Here I am. I am alive. This is what I'm grateful for for yesterday, this is what I'm living for today, and this is what I shall live for tomorrow." He also believes great people's plans revolve around what they're doing for others.

What do you think are the most important qualities to develop as a leader?
Listening. Not about listening to reply, but listening to understand and enact and then, afterwards, developing strategies or plans?

Clearly, listening to others' perspectives is important to you. How much is travel a part of that for you, has travel always been a priority for you, and how has it enhanced your life?
It's always been a priority. Wempy says he'd rather die and have traveled a lot than to die with a double story house and two cars in the garage. He talks about how "first world problems" are really different, and how when you see how the rest of the world lives, it's much harder to take everything for granted.

Wempy goes on to talk about family. He believes he'll regret not having more time to see his parents, on his deathbed. He feels that he's missed out on a lot of their lives and their growth as people, and that as they get older, he's chasing time to find ways to see them more often. It's the biggest downside, he feels, to being an independent spirit abroad. He's currently looking into moving back to Sydney or London to be closer to them.

Do you have any other habits or traits that contribute to your happiness and success?
Having self-awareness. Wempy discusses the importance of knowing yourself as a person, your possibilities, and your limitations. His self-awareness has increased a lot over the years, and it's also allowed him to have more empathy for other people. He also doesn't speak before he thinks. He's definitely not one of those people who tweets before they think and causes problems because of it; rather, he considers the impact of what he does before doing it.

Do you have any other advice for us?
"Look down." Although he believes it's great to surround yourself with great people to try to elevate your own life, he gives the advice to, every once in a while, look down. To be clear - he doesn't mean it in a derogatory way, or to suggest that you could measure someone through material wealth, good looks, ability, disability, or anything like that. That said, he says we as humans judge and know what looking down means. For example, if you're feeling like you don't have very much money right now, rather than looking up at them, look at people who don't have what you have - who don't have Skype, or electricity, or food on their plate. People who don't have arts and culture even in their pipe dream. Wempy's also grateful to not be at the top, and talks about the kind of problems someone like Mark Zuckerberg might have, about which we could know nothing. So be thankful to not be Bill Gates, but also be thankful to not be trafficked right now.

Wempy feels fortunate that in his travels, it's not something he can ignore. Although there's homelessness in London, New York, etc., it's not as prevalent as it is in Asia, or other parts of the world. "As part of our commitment to improve by looking up, our commitment to improve should also include looking down."

Thank you for joining us today on The Peace of Persistence! If you enjoyed this episode, take a minute to share us with a friend or review us on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or Imdb. Every share and review – or even rating – helps new people discover our show. Also, if you know anyone who's genuinely happy and has had some success in their lives, if you think they'd be a good fit for our show, let us know at

In the meantime, you can subscribe to the lite version wherever you listen to podcasts. Or visit us at to find our full versions, or if you just want to support the show. Thanks, and we'll see you next time on The Peace of Persistence for more great content to help us all find more happiness and success in our lives.

Michael of Michael Chadwick Photography (LITE)


Michael of Michael Chadwick Photography joins us for a great interview in his studio about his long journey from selling plasma to survive to owning his own home and award-winning business. Subscribe to our show at for the extended version, where we also discuss the importance of focusing on the vast majority of things going right in our lives, Mike's surprising involvement in Deborah Voigt "little black dress scandal," carrying each learned skill through life, what marathons teach you about life, and more.

Show links:
Michael Chadwick Photography:

Find Michael's book, Balancing the Art and Business of Wedding Photography, on Amazon:

This episode comes to you today from South Jersey, where I first met Michael Chadwick at my high school, where he was my student teacher. If you're reading this, you've found the LITE version, where even today's bio is shortened. That said, Mike has had an amazing life, and if you feel so inclined to check out the longer version on Patreon ( by becoming a subscriber and supporting the show, I highly recommend it.

Michael Chadwick went from music education to the Interactive Voice Response industry and formed his own company.  From there, he moved to Dallas, and formed his own artist opera company in the Dallas area called The Living Opera, which provided many opportunities for young opera singers in the region.  He also stage directed and sang opera. He then moved to Manhattan, where he reconnected with his longtime friend Suzanne, and they were married.

He then took a job performing database administration for an arts fundraising and marketing company in Brooklyn.  He continued to sing and direct opera, but began taking photography more seriously whenever time would permit it. When he pursued it persistently, it provided him more and more opportunities to take it from being a hobby to a full time job.  After Michael and Suzanne moved to their first owned home in Medford, one year later, in 2013, Michael gave notice at his day job and took his photography business full time.  Finally, at just over 40 years old, Michael is fully in control of his own life, and he feels he's finally achieved the goal that so many people seem to strive toward: Happiness and Success.

He believes that happiness doesn't always come easily, and it doesn't always come quickly.  Persistence and patience, belief in one's self, and surrounding one's self with the right people are all keys to finding that happy place.

Show recap:
Let's talk about the moral to your story in your extended bio – that happiness doesn't always come easily, and it doesn't always come quickly. What does happiness mean to you?
Of course, this is different for everyone. For Mike, it's being in charge and in control of his life. Having that control gives him the ability to use his time to create and to do things for others to affect someone in a positive way. He feels fulfilled and satisfied and has the support system of his family and his wife Suzanne and her family. The safety net, he says, is invaluable. The same control gives him success, and he enjoys the luxury he has of being able to work harder and have it directly impact him and his finances.

I'd love to go back and explore the topic of control for you. In particular, a lot of people will talk about studies about internal versus external locus of control - the internal being that you believe that you have some kind of influence on the outcomes in your life. The external locus of control - those are the people who believe that other circumstances are responsible for the outcomes and events in their life. It seems to me that you've had a bit of a shift in your thinking in your life... Have you moved from a place of an external locus of control, believing that other things influenced your outcomes, to a place of internal locus of control, believing that you are in control of your life?
Absolutely. That change contributes to his happiness almost more than anything else. Because he's no longer blaming his lack of a degree, or giving up too much of himself in relationships, he can exert his own will over his life. Before he went to Westminster Choir College, in the late eighties in Louisiana, he remembers having no bed in a decrepit house, eating peanut butter sandwiches, and donating plasma twice a week so he could afford to survive, and realizing he needed to make a change. That big change of leaving everything, starting over, and working five jobs to afford school was the beginning of his long journey toward finding control in his life. Failing at the end of that time made him feel like he wasn't in control, and he didn't want that to be his life. Failing at his first marriage made him realize he could never give up that control again, and at that time, he shifted the responsibility back on to himself.
Mike wanted the opportunity to take responsibility for his life. He discusses the quote that is often attributed to Einstein, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." So many things in his life (in Dallas) were not working for him all at once, and he decided it was time to go. Immediately, he was able to be himself and excel at the things he did well. It was a long path from selling his blood for peanut butter money to having a successful, thriving career that allows him to support himself and his family, and to decide what he wants to do, even down to the wedding clients he chooses.

And you've won a bunch of awards from different places for your photography business as well?
Several awards from WeddingWire and every year from The Knot, he wins "Best of Weddings" because of reviews from his customers. He credits this to the realization he had when he and Suzanne honeymooned at Disney, where they went above and beyond everyone's expectations. He applies it to his wedding photography, knowing the names of the wedding party and family members, carries a bag with bobby pins and safety pins, knows how to help with bustles of wedding dresses and boutonnières - he says these are the things they remember.

What is your book called, and how can we find it?
Because artists often don't make good business people, he wrote Balancing the Art and Business of Wedding Photography. It's designed to give people the business foundation they need in order to succeed. It's not only the photography, but social dynamics, crowd control, relating well to the people, pricing, costs, equipment, etc. It also introduces them to many different types of weddings and what to expect from them - as well as surprising pitfalls.

Do you have any habits or traits that you'd attribute to your success and happiness?
Persistence. Belief, which he sees as a snowball effect, where the more you achieve, the more you believe you can. "Little victories over the years created a monster, where I really believe I can do almost anything." He jokes that his wife is an enabler, because she also believes in him and tells him so, and each success helps him achieve the next success.

Do you have any advice for us?
"Especially in this Internet age where we have such access to each other, be careful not to spend so much time minding other people's business that you let your own business go bankrupt."

Thanks, as always, for joining us on The Peace of Persistence. Please take a moment to share this episode or review us on Apple Podcasts, or come on over to our subscriber channel at We'd love to have you join us in supporting this great show about happiness and success. Have a great week! We'll be back next Thursday with an amazing episode with investor and world traveler Wempy Dyocta-Koto.


A SoulFeed Highlight


Today, we have a very special treat for you. Thanks to our guest from season 2, Shannon Algeo, we get to introduce you to his podcast, Soulfeed. On Soulfeed, Alex Kip and Shannon Algeo help you meet your higher self through their inspirational episodes and enlightening interviews. I'm personally a big fan. Just keep listening for one of Shannon's episodes, called "Get Financially Lit." I thought it would be a great one to highlight because although we tend to focus more on finding happiness than success on The Peace of Persistence, that's one piece of our bigger puzzle to achieving a higher life satisfaction.

On this episode of Soulfeed, Shannon helps you identify
– What is money?
– 5 key steps to live in alignment with your purpose and earn.
– How to develop an empowered relationship with money now, and
– Ways to allow yourself to receive what you want in this life.

We'll be back with the next episode of The Peace of Persistence in one week, on March 1, where I get to talk with the founder of Michael Chadwick Photography, who's had to work very hard on achieving the happiness he's found in his life.

For show notes on "Get Financially Lit," please find them directly at

Thanks for joining us for this week's preview of Soulfeed on The Peace of Persistence. Find them on iTunes or by going to We'll see you next week, with our next new interview featuring Michael of Michael Chadwick Photography

Bill McKibben and a Break

Hi there, Peace of Persistence listeners! This week, we have a very special treat for you, but first - a quick announcement. We need to take a brief pause to search for more guests, and I need your help. Close your eyes for a moment. Take a deep breath and then exhale. Now, take a minute to imagine your favorite people in life. Who do you know, who seems to have a light around them at all times? They're happy, satisfied with life, and know how to succeed at what they want to accomplish. (pause) Do you have someone in mind? (pause) If not, give it some time, see if someone comes to mind. (pause) If you do now - great!! Open your eyes, pull up our website at, and pause this episode to nominate your friend for our show. If you'd rather introduce us to them, just send them over to, and they can find out more about us and nominate themselves. That's Thanks!

Ok, thank you for doing that! As I mentioned, we need to take a brief pause to search for more guests, and we'll return later in February (Because we're taking a break, this one's on us, Patreon subscribers). In the meantime, for today, enjoy this rebroadcast of a previous episode of The Peace of Persistence with Author, Educator, Environmentalist, and Co-founder of, Bill McKibben. Just this January in 2018, we've had a 30% tariff added to imported solar panels in the US, terrible mudslides in California, and bigger, faster avalanches throughout the world - climate change is a real concern, and Bill gives us some great perspectives about it and strategies to address it in this interview. So without further ado, I bring you Bill McKibben.

Josh Pais - Actor, Director, Producer, & Founder of Committed Impulse

Host Abigail Wright gets to talk with her mentor, Josh Pais, actor, director, producer, and founder of Committed Impulse. They discuss how being present and increasing your tolerance for emotions and sensations can bring you joy, Josh's experience as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, 4 access points to staying present, and more.

To hear more about Josh's funniest moments as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, experiences working with other great actors (like Bruce Willis and Meryl Streep), technology in our culture, how Committed Impulse helped me heal from a major injury and changed my life, Josh's thoughts about chronic pain, addiction, and more, subscribe for the full version at

Show Links:
Committed Impulse -
Josh Pais on IMDB -

Josh Pais, actor, director, producer, and founder of Committed Impulse, was raised by his parents, Abraham Pais - a theoretical physicist who worked with Albert Einstein, and Lila - a bohemian painter and poet. They’ve had a tremendous influence on what has become Committed Impulse. You pick your favorite actor, and chances are, Josh has worked with them, because he's acted in over a hundred movies and TV shows. Currently, he's playing Stu Feldman in the hit Showtime series, Ray Donovan, among other shows and films. He's also a Co-creator/Co-exec Producer of a TV series that Sony is producing called PAINT. Among other films in which you might have seen Josh, his first lead in a movie was when he played Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

After college, disenchanted with styles of acting that rely on sense memory, Josh sought out theatre companies with a strong physical component in their approach. He worked with members of Joe Chaikin’s (chaykin) Open Theatre and Shuji Terayama’s Avante-garde Theatre of Tokyo. He trained with Tadashi Suzuki and his company, and worked extensively with Gabrielle Roth (to name a few of his guides and mentors). On a quest to find a way to bring all of this physical aliveness to his work as an actor, he became a member of the Circle Rep Lab Company, where he started directing. He put a group of twelve actors together and began experimenting for a 14 month period, wanting the actors to be fully alive, very tuned into one another and completely spontaneous. Much of what unfolded during that exploration has evolved into the core training of Committed Impulse, a high-performance training for actors, artists, and entrepreneurs.

Josh has been fortunate to work consistently in movies and television throughout his career and owes everything to the principles he picked up along the way, all of which are utilized in his Committed Impulse classes and Online Program. Josh currently lives in New York City, Sag Harbor, and Venice, California.

Show Summary:
To start, your parents sound amazing. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how you discovered acting?
Josh grew up in the East Village, which, at the time, he describes as a vibrant, dangerous environment where everything was out in the open and nothing was hidden. A kind of third world drug culture, where heroin and acid were the drugs readily available around there when he was growing up. Although everything was completely raw and potentially unsafe for people visiting the neighborhood, those who lived in it had a sense of protection, because it was a very tight community. Josh's mom was a true artist, and they had performances in their house every two weeks. He took part in them at 9 or 10 years of age when it started, not thinking he wanted to become an actor. 30-40 people would come and perform with no judgment, and it was more of a celebration. His parents divorced when he was 3, and on his father's side of things, as much as his mother was an artist, his father was a scientist. A physicist who worked with Einstein, he was very interested in exploring the building blocks of the universe and how everything is constructed of atoms. He would tell Josh at a very young age things like “this table is made out of atoms, and this person is made out of atoms,” and it blew his mind as he pondered those things. Between the artistic side from his mother and the physical way of looking at things in his immediate environment, he took the best of both of his parents.

Tell me about being Raphael in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. You were the only actor of all the turtles to both voice your character and play him in the suit, right? What was that like for you?
Josh believes he was hired to do both because the physicality and the voice were so intertwined for him. Growing up in the East Village, he witnessed a lot of people who made themselves look bigger and more dangerous than they were, almost scooping their arms through the air. Although he'd never heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he thought that his character Raphael was trying to find his place in the world, and realized that the way people walked in his neighborhood where he was growing up seemed somewhat similar to how turtles arms move as they push through the ground. He put those two aspects together, and during the filming, they just couldn't see anyone else's voice being physically connected to the character that he had created.

In terms of the actual shooting, the costume weighed 70 pounds, and most of the time, they could barely see through a tiny slit. They trained for about 4 months in martial arts before shooting, and all of the turtles became very tuned into one another, which they had to use during the filming, because they couldn't rely fully on sight and had to had a real kinesthetic awareness of the space, especially during action sequences.

Without giving too much away for free, can you give us a bit of a primer or teaser for what Committed Impulse entails and how it was inspired?
Josh loves to give stuff away for free, so he tells us. One of the key components is increasing your tolerance for the full spectrum of who you are. When you put yourself on the line – that might be an audition (for an actor), or going on a date, or pitching your product – it's guaranteed that you're going to have an increase in body sensations. It could be in the form of anything – nervousness, fear, excitement, joy (like butterflies) – and it doesn't mean you're unprofessional, because it's human nature when you go further in the world. If you don't know what to do when you experience something like nervousness, it will happen, you'll try to suppress it, maybe with breathing or relaxation or some other technique, and you might be able to decrease that sensation by decreasing the information your body is offering. At that point, you signal to your mind that you're not going to feel, and your attention goes into your thoughts, which at that point tend to go toward a negative place (“I suck,” or “they don't like this,” etc.). The problem is, the more that any presenter is in their head, the more the audience is going to be in their heads. The more any presenter is present with what they're feeling and experiencing, the more alert and active the audience will be. We think it'll be a problem if the audience sees that we're nervous. Referring to his father, Josh asks, “What is nervousness?” and says that for most people, it's like a chaotic energy spinning around in their torso. When Josh has people just experience it without the drama that it's a bad thing, and breathe, and stay connected to what's in front of them (their audience), then that sensation is no longer an issue. When they stay with the sensation, it keeps them present, and then any sensation they fully feel will shift within 7-12 seconds.

Josh used to experience crippling anxiety during auditions and knew he had more to offer than what he was offering, and he created committed impulse as a way to crack the code. “If we can get over this idea that there's an ideal state to be in, then we can create, no matter what.” If you hold onto the idea that some sensations are good, than you're going to perceive that some sensations are bad, and when they do occur, everything will go haywire. So part of the work in classes and in the online course is helping people to feel comfortable with the full spectrum of themselves. Those who've worked with Josh for a while recognize things like anxiety and fear and realize they can create from that energy, from that fuel.

Do you have any habits or traits that contribute to your happiness or success?
He says practicing what he calls the four access points to presence is key and will pull you out of drama and despair. He practices them regularly. One is to actually see the details of your environment and what's in front of you. The second is to really feel the sensations in your body right now at this moment in time. Not about whether you like it or not, but any sensations you can access – like the feeling of your butt in the chair, or some tightness in your chest, and whatever emotions are associated with it. The third is to consciously breathe – not to exhale any feelings you don't want to feel, but to inhale and exhale consciously to wake up the information that's in your body. The fourth (my favorite) is to catch yourself when you go off into any kind of mental drama, like wondering what's going to happen in the future, or whether you screwed up the past or it was better, etc. In class, when that happens, we're taught to say, “I'm back,” out loud, whenever that happens, which trains us to come back to this moment. As you start to drift off, you visually start to see less, your breathing decreases, and you disconnect from your body. So – to reverse that, say, “I'm back,” take a breath, see what you actually see, and observe the charge – what the atoms are actually doing in your body at that moment. It's that simple. That's what opens up the creative channel, and things will come to you in ways they couldn't have using just a little part of your mind. “Your creativity's in your body. You stay in your body, you stay in your immediate environment, increase your tolerance for whatever's happening, and the world is yours.”

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
All of the sensations in your body are just pattern­s of energy, not good or bad. By increasing our tolerance for those shifts of energy in our bodies, everything becomes more fun, easier, and will keep us out of our heads, where all the trouble starts.

What's the best way to get started in Committed Impulse, for anyone who's interested?
Go to the website,, where you can sign up for a free audio lesson that will cover some of the things we talked about here and more. After that, you can look at the online course, and you can see what live classes are available in New York and LA.

Do you have any other advice for us?
No. Go have some dark chocolate, drink a lot of water, and go for a walk.

Josh, thank you SO much for being here. You and your work have really made such a huge difference to me as an actor and singer and human... I can't begin to say how grateful I am for you and to have you on our show. Thank you.

And thank you for joining us today on The Peace of Persistence! If you enjoyed this episode, take a minute to share us with a friend or review us on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or Imdb. Every share and review – or even rating – helps new people discover our show. Also, if you know anyone who's genuinely happy and has had some success in their lives, if you think they'd be a good fit for our show, let us know at

In the meantime, you can subscribe to the lite version wherever you listen to podcasts. Or visit us at to find our full versions, or if you just want to support the show. Thanks, and we'll see you next time on The Peace of Persistence for more great content to help us all find more happiness and success in our lives.

Tricia Alexandro (LITE - Part 2) - Playwright, Actor, & Personal Trainer

In this second part of a two-part episode, our host Abigail Wright sits down with playwright, actor, and personal trainer Tricia Alexandro to discuss the power of community and dance, living a life of diligence, the lasting effects of inner work, and more. More at

Show links:

Tricia Alexandro on Facebook -
Tricia Alexandro on Instagram -
Tricia Alexandro's website (for anyone who wants to help manage it!) -

Show summary:

What do you like to do outside of the theatre and film world and personal training?
Tricia loves to dance and feels that swing dance in particular was life-saving for her. After her experience with rape, she felt disconnected from and afraid of the attention her body could attract. A co-worker took her swing dancing, with a 40's big band, and he taught her how to swing dance. It was a safe, joyful and exuberant expression that she finds gets her out of her head into a great sense of surrender and creativity. She's also done African dance and loves any kind of dance. Because African dance encompasses African American history, there's joy, pain, suffering, a rooting in the earth, and community. Dance has been a way for her to shut off her brain, get in touch with her body, and express her femininity in a safe way.

You've been involved in a lot of different communities for both actors and playwrights. How do those communities enhance your life?
They're sort of miniature families, and families for her were always safe. Her family was very strong and loving, and she and her siblings were all in a community theatre together growing up. Community isn't always easy, but the sense of creating something together and bringing beauty into the world is life-giving. The Barrow Group was the first company where she really felt at peace, where everyone still makes her feel welcome, seen, heard, and valued. She talks about Seth Barrow and Lee Brock and how they were almost like second parents for her. The Naked Angels, The Shelter Theatre Company, and The Labyrinth Theatre company have all helped her in allowing her to be seen and heard, and acknowledged and celebrated for being enough as she is today.

Do you have any other habits or traits that you'd attribute to your happiness and success?
Journaling and writing gratitude lists. She says she sets up her whole life as an act of diligence. She wakes up, puts on coffee, and meditates for 10 minutes. She journals right after that. She reads a lot of self-help, philosophy, and spiritual books. When she's online on social media, she tries to make sure she's feeding herself positive content. Glennon Melton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, Rob Bell, and Martha Beck are all heroes of hers, and the Facebook pages and Instagram pages she checks on regularly. She believes that allowing yourself to just scroll without thinking can leave you open to too much negativity in the "group think," non constructive conversations. You can be dissatisfied with the world and constructive at the same time. She looks for positive media.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
A sense of us all being one, that we're all spirit, and that we're all intrinsically worthy. We're seeing the inequity right now in our country's culture, the narrative about minorities that we've been fed, the inequities between genders, and the ways people are treated differently. Tricia wishes we could have a more even playing field, holding space for each other and celebrating one another. When one person is treated better, we all benefit.

Do you have any other advice for us?
To go inward before going outward. Tricia thinks we're taught that the answers are outside of us - making our appearance better, acquiring things and people. Although those things can enrich our lives, the lasting work is the inner work. If you're not ok inside, nothing else matters. Your wisdom and peace are inside you already. Let that be your "jumping off" place.

Special thanks to Tricia for joining us and sharing her wisdom today – and last week!

And thank you for joining us today on The Peace of Persistence! If you enjoyed this episode, take a minute to share us with a friend or review us on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or Imdb. Every share and review – or even rating – helps new people discover our show. Also, if you know anyone who's extraordinarily and genuinely happy who has had some success in their lives, if you think they'd be a good fit for our show, let us know at

In the meantime, subscribe on for full access, or find our lite episodes on YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll see you next time on The Peace of Persistence with great conversations and content to help all of us find more happiness and success in our lives.

Tricia Alexandro (LITE - Part 1) - Playwright, Actor, & Personal Trainer

In this first part of a two-part episode, our host Abigail Wright sits down with playwright, actor, and personal trainer Tricia Alexandro to discuss the importance of family, her survival story, and how to work on happiness. More at

Tricia is a native New Yorker. She studied creative writing and public speaking at Binghamton University, and, following college, moved to Los  Angeles to study the Meisner Technique at Playhouse West Acting School.  When she returned to New York, she studied scene study, script analysis  and Shakespeare at The Barrow Group School with Seth Barrish and Lee  Brock. She is a longtime member of the Barrow Groupʼs master class and has appeared in numerous productions at their theater, including two  one-woman shows that she wrote. She also studied on-camera acting with  Bob Krakower and attended The Manhattan Film Institute. She is a member of the Labyrinth Theater Companyʼs Intensive Ensemble. She has written two plays, both of which had readings at The Bank Street Theater, home  of the Labyrinth Theater Company. In addition to her many film and  theatre credits as an actor, Tricia performs her writing the third Sunday of every month at The Bowery Poetry Club as part of The Symphonics Live Show, hosted by Shawn Randall. She also performs her writing at the Naked Angels' Tuesdays at 9 monthly reading series. She's currently working on her next one-woman show – a compilation of monologues based on urban women – and she intends to perform it by early 2018.

Show links: 

So - which came first, the scriptor or the ham? No, no, seriously - did  you see yourself more as a writer or an actor growing up, or both?  
Tricia says acting came first but didn't realize it could be more than a  hobby until she graduated from college. She previously thought she'd be  a teacher, like both of her parents. When she moved to LA, she gave herself the space permission to go after it, after struggling with her  desire to be liked and have her parents approve of her choices.

How did it work out with your parents, were they supportive?
Tricia's brother paved the way for her when he decided to become a  comedian, and her parents have been very supportive. His advice was also  invaluable.
Is he still a comedian?
Yes - he opens for Jim Gaffagan, has been on the Letterman Show and with  Conan O'Brien.
What's his name and how do we find him?
Ted Alexandro - find him at
Does he live here? So you have that support.
Yes, he lives in Astoria, and she's so happy to be back to the east coast and to be able to see him all the time. When she moved back here, it initially felt like a failure to her, but that has changed a lot, and she's thrilled to have that support.

You're clearly very prolific as a writer and an actor, and you're  constantly creating more content. What drives you the most in your work?
Absence. If Tricia sees that women, urban women, and minorities  especially are under-represented, she feels a fire to right that wrong.
She comes from a family of stories and talks about the joy of watching her mother teach. Her mother was a religion and sex ed teacher who had a  passion for staying and changing things within the catholic church. Tricia really admires people who recognize the need for change and work within institutions to change them. Her mother wrote letters to a  catholic magazine called "The Bulletin" and taught her daughter that she has a voice and that it can be powerful. When she focuses on competition  or winning awards, that cripples her. When she focuses on the joy of saying the important things that need to be said, then she can't wait to write.

What attracts you the most about the theatre experience?
Tricia says it's a high that you can't replicate anywhere else. There's an instant gratification and response, a communion that happens between  the audience and the performers. It's a reminder that we're all actually  connected, experienced in the moment, riding a wave of spirit and what  feels like love to Tricia - "a hugeness that I don't experience anywhere  else."

How can people find your upcoming shows?
Instagram or Facebook - see show links above.

Have you had any big obstacles that you've had to overcome, and what  have you learned from those experiences?
Her earliest obstacles involved being a very sensitive person in a messy  world that tries to compact sensitive people. Acting was her salvation,  after having a bully in grammar school that toyed with her sense of self  and made her believe she wasn't good enough. Tricia shares that she was  raped by a guy in her acting class at 23, which was part of her unraveling. It forced her into intense suffering and caused her to burst through, coming out more fully herself and less afraid of owning her truth.
So you would say you're resilient? Yes.

So often, people who are happy have always been happy. Have you had to  work on your happiness then?
Tricia tended more towards melancholy and thought it was just who she  was. Her younger sister would wake up with a smile every morning, where  Trish would feel overwhelming anxiety. She often felt like she wasn't in  charge and didn't know what she was doing, not smart enough to make her own decisions.

How did you overcome that?
Therapy. Tricia is a willing student of life, open to many different  modalities - including physical bodywork, hypnotherapy, and cognitive  behavioral therapy, which has helped her to question the automatic  thoughts and create the space between experience and reaction.

Thanks so much for joining us for part 1 of this amazing episode with Tricia Alexandro. Tune in next time when we'll talk about everything from swing dance to grit, to equality, happiness, success and so much more. She even tries to rename the show! Thanks for joining us, and thanks especially to Trish for a really wonderful interview. 

Judy Sladky (LITE) - Champion Ice Dancer, Snoopy, & Alice Snuffleupagus

Episode Description: Host Abigail Wright sits down with Judy Sladky, world ice dancing champion and actress hand-picked by Charles Schulz to play Snoopy in real life. They discuss competing during the Cold War, seeing the world through the eyes of a dog, ignoring the negativity of others, and more.

To hear what Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, was like, how Judy as Snoopy flew in zero-gravity and on a trapeze (among other feats) with no peripheral vision and paws for hands, working with Billie Jean King on Title IX, and more, visit us at, where you can subscribe to our podcasts for ad-free episodes with double the content. 

Show Links:

Intro: Judy Sladky is an American actress and former competitive ice dancer from Indianapolis, Indiana. With her skating partner, Jim Sladky, she became a four-time World medalist and five-time U.S. national champion. Handpicked by Charles Schulz, she debuted as Snoopy in the TV special Snoopy’s Musical on Ice and has been playing Snoopy, on the ice and off, ever since. This includes, among countless events and appearances: doing trapeze, backflips on trampolines, flying in zero gravity, and acting in the 1996 comedy film Jingle All the Way starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. On Sesame Street, she was the performer of little Alice Snuffleupagus since the Muppet's debut in 1986, operating the mouth within the suit, and also providing the voice, while another puppeteer controls the eyes via remote control. Judy currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, Blake Norton.

Show Summary: When did you know you wanted to be an ice skater? Judy started skating at 3 years old. Her sister had started taking classes in the Keane Cutters in Indianapolis. Since back in the 1950's, her grandfather wanted them to get involved in athletics, and little girls commonly swam, did gymnastics, and ice skated, her sister started ice skating. As a 3 year old, Judy pleaded with her mother for her own skates.

What was that like for you, growing up and becoming a competitive ice dancer? She didn't go the normal route. Loving dancing and wanting to share the experience with a partner, she didn't have to wake up to skate early like the competitive figure skaters because the dancers practiced later in the day. It also didn't come with the same financial promises, because it wasn't as popular at the time in the U.S. She went to school full time and was a cheerleader, a majorette, in the theatre club and in the girls club. She didn't have to miss out on the things other figure skaters missed.

Do you have any favorite stories from that time? The most interesting part about competition at the time was being introduced to the Eastern block countries during the Cold War.

What did you experience over there at that time? She found herself at some parties where, as a westerner, she was instructed to hide. At 16, she had no idea why, but she quickly became aware that some people use competition as a means to leave their country, make some money, and to meet people to see what was outside of the "Iron Curtain."

My neighbor, Inessa is a lovely young ice skater who is competitive and wants to go to the nationals soon. Do you have any advice for young ice skaters who want to compete? Judy says she never felt as though she competed against anyone. She never worried about which judge to impress or how many points she needed to get to the next rank, but she just enjoyed skating and figuring out the mechanics of it and how to improve.

It sounds like you were able to let go of a lot of the insecurities many experience with competitiveness or interacting with others. Judy was aware of her height difference, as a 4'10" figure skater. Most skaters were taller. Otherwise, she just wanted to meet people and learn about their cultures and countries. She loved to ponder the differences, such as why the west wore brighter colors, while countries like Russia and East Germany wore mostly black, brown, and grey.

Judy says she thinks she always comes from more of a place of curiosity, loves to learn, and loves to think things through on more than just the surface level.

Was it hard to transition into being a professional? In figure skating back then, once you took any money at all for figure skating, you were a professional. Judy says the major difference was that as a professional, you were no longer judged by anyone but the audience. Even if she fell, she could look back and laugh with them. She said she felt she had to let them know she knew she'd fallen so they could move forward and laugh at it together. We talk about acknowledging a fall and moving on.

Tell me about meeting Charles Schulz. What had you been doing at the time? In 1969, she was the national ice dancing champion with her partner, Jim Sladky. At that time, the ice rink in Charles Schulz' town, in Santa Rosa, had burned down. He and his kids (from Minnesota) loved to skate. He and his wife at the time, Joyce, decided to build a new rink, inviting all of the national champions from the U.S. to skate at the opening. She attended, and during that time, they became good friends. At the time, although she knew what Charles Schulz did, she grew up without having Peanuts in the Indianapolis Star paper and wasn't familiar with the strip at all, or the characters. They would talk, and he often would say that she was just like Snoopy. After she'd met him, she went into the Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies, where Jim Henson had brought the Muppets. After Judy initiated the conversation that she wanted to skate as a Muppet, "Sparky" Charles Schulz called and said, "Will you be my dog?" She's been "the beagle" ever since.

How hard was it to get used to wearing the suit at first? You've done some really active stuff in it! Judy still likes to believe it isn't really a suit and says that if she can believe that, then anybody can. Snoopy decides what to do and can (and does!) do anything, like backflips.

She only talks about the suit for people who don't believe. When she first started working with characters, Judy found out that she was claustrophobic.

Is his widow ok, and what happened with all of his memorabilia? The Charles M. Schulz museum was fine, about 3 blocks from the fire. Thankfully, his widow, Jean, had put together this museum years ago, and over 95% of his work has been saved. At the museum, they did fundraisers for the fire victims, and Snoopy now has a new first responders hat. Because you can't originate a new look for Snoopy, they had to make sure the hat was represented in the original strips. They found a strip from 1969 where Lucy had thrown Schroeder's piano into the tree. Linus screams for help, and Snoopy comes in with his rescue hat. She says she designed the hat, and her talented husband Blake made it.

What's your favorite part about playing Snoopy? Meeting people. Listening. Snoopy does a lot of work with the army, and the sad stories make Judy feel almost as good as the happy ones. When they were over in Germany, she and Snoopy were doing a holiday show with the USO, and she met a man who was in shock, recently back after being deployed for a time. When he saw Snoopy, he realized he was home.

Judy says nothing beats the love she's able to give when she holds someone who's just lost their father, or just graduated from high school, or anything. Snoopy doesn't talk back or give advice, he just holds them and loves them. She believes listening is the best thing you can do in this world.

We discuss the gift she has of being able to receive pure love from strangers as Snoopy, something reserved usually for dogs and babies, and she loves that Snoopy really listens to people without judgment. She believes in Snoopy more than anyone else.

And you played Alice Snuffleupagus for nearly a decade... What was it like working on Sesame Street? Judy says the best thing about Sesame Street is that's how she met her husband, Blake, who worked in sound on the show. She says Alice Snuffleupagus was very difficult, with a falsetto voice and a heavy head, neck stretched and on all fours - hands and feet (not knees). She says it was fun and although she didn't experience it as as much fun as Snoopy, because there wasn't as much immediate interaction with people. She said it was amazing though, to meet people like Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Jerry Nelson.

What does happiness mean for you? Not letting others' negativity get to her. She's very aware of when people say things to stop her. Not letting the people who are afraid of failure make her think that she can't. She talks about the importance of holding onto happiness and helping others around you to do the same. Sometimes, she holds onto it by determination. Sometimes, she reminds herself of something like the little child telling Snoopy she loves him when she's feeling scared or down. Snoopy's always happy, so she'll use him too.

Do you have any other advice for us? Keep learning. Learn everything you can, because you never know when it'll come in handy. In his first musical on ice, Snoopy played the piano from Casablanca. So Judy learned the fingering for "As Time Goes by." She recommends really thinking about what you want to do, not just going on autopilot.

Thank you for joining us today on The Peace of Persistence. If you're listening in real-time, it's just a few days before the new year, and I'm wishing all of you a very happy and successful 2018! It's been an amazing season so far since we started back up in September, and I'm so grateful to everyone who has tuned in, shared us, supported us, and told us how much you love the show. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I'm so excited to keep going into the new year with some great interviews, including a voice-over artist, an incredible actor and coach, a prolific wedding photographer, a personal trainer, actor, and writer, and the founder of the world's first virtual sexual health clinic! It's going to be an exciting time. Don't forget, if you know anyone you think would be a good fit for the show, point them to to learn more, or email us at Thanks as always, and we'll see you in 2018!

Craig Blum of Johnny Doughnuts (LITE)

Episode Description:
In this LITE episode, host Abigail Wright talks with Craig Blum, Owner, Founder, and Chief Enthusiast of Johnny Doughnuts about working with The Hard Rock Cafe, overcoming addiction, intuition, authenticity in parenthood, yes - doughnuts, and so much more.

In the full version, hear Craig talk about waking up Gilbert Gottfried, overcoming addiction after being in LA county prison, intuition, authenticity in parenting, travel, and more. That's at

Born in Los Angeles, Craig Blum says he's the product of a crazy childhood environment. At the age of 16, with the help of a friend's father, he became emancipated, and lived in the maids' quarters of a friend's empty mansion with their Chauffer. After High School, Craig worked a quick stint in the entertainment world before finding his passion as part of the opening team of the first US Hard Rock Café. While he really loved the food industry, with late nights and crazy living, he quickly found his personal life spinning out of control and hit bottom with drugs and alcohol at the age of 22.

After getting sober, he decided to take his passion for food and run with it. He was part of the opening team for Chopstix restaurant Group in Los Angeles, opened multiple restaurants for them, managed the popular Authentic Café, and worked with the Border Grill. After taking some time off to travel to Israel and Europe, Craig had a moment of clarity, realizing that anything is possible and that he never had to live anywhere that he didn’t love. He fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved to Maui, opening Café Fresh on the Northwest Shore of the island. He ran Café Fresh for a few years before selling it and going to the mainland for 9 months to begin a new business.

Inspired by reading the Celestine Prophecy, he began to notice his surroundings to see where they would take him. Craig drove into Marin county, California, saw a sign that told him it was where he needed to be, and has have been there for 20 years. He started a pizza crust manufacturing company out of the back of his car and grew it to a nationally distributed product. With a lifelong interest in food trucks, he then became a student of that industry and began a quest to learn how to build the perfect truck with the perfect product…  And he is today.

In early 2012, Johnny Doughnuts was born with the question, "why do doughnuts typically taste so bad and make us feel so bad when we eat them?" After 2 years pf product development and design, as their truck was delivered, they were approached by someone at Apple to do an event for ITunes. Since then, Johnny Doughnuts has done numerous events for Apple, Facebook, Google, and YouTube, to name a few. Named one of the top 3 doughnuts in the country by Food Network and honored as small business of the year for the state of California, they're even in a newly released major motion picture with Denzel Washington. Craig's mission with Johnny Doughnuts is to be of service and share the love, while working to bring back the sense of community and legacy that was once shared culturally with doughnuts. He has a loving and growing relationship with his wife and 2 amazing children, a 16 year old girl (from a previous relationship) and a 7 year old boy. He works hard to be great father, not trying to right the wrongs gifted to him, but because he wants to share with them his authentic self.

Show links:
Johnny Doughnuts:

Show summary:
You've led such a fascinating life. It seems you've been chasing freedom for a long time - what was it like, being emancipated at 16, and how has it affected you throughout your adult life?
He felt older than that when it happened at the time, and it was incredibly liberating because he realized he had the ability to make choices for himself. While it felt exciting to have his own space, he also experienced loneliness, but he needed that experience. It taught him that he can always make a change when times feel desperate.

You opened a lot of restaurants in your early career. What are some of your favorite take-aways or lessons from that time?
Craig feels grateful to have witnessed Peter Morton's early inspiration to make the Hard Rock Cafe the worldwide brand that it is today. It was holistically about branding. It wasn't just about the food, the environment, or the perception of the community - it was all of the above. From the lines outside, to the quality of the food, to the music and experience, it was a journey where people could leave their struggles behind for a moment. He basically created the whole "eatertainment" industry.

What fascinates you about food trucks?
Craig has always loved food trucks as a vehicle to get amazing food to anywhere in the world. They used to be unclean and sold bad food, but when he saw them starting to improve and carry great products, he got excited and started brainstorming how he could use one to make a profitable food business. With his current CFO, he created a business model for a pizza truck. He felt like he was swimming upstream with that concept and decided if he couldn't get past this one more hurdle, he would make a doughnut truck, because he was more excited about the doughnut holes on his pizza truck's menu than the rest of it. Within two weeks of making the mental shift, he had the whole project completely funded and ready to go.

It sounds like your strongest skill is networking. Although it probably comes naturally to you, do you have any advice about networking or meeting people?
As we get more interested in others, others become more interested in us. Get curious and interested.

I love your particular interest in the cultural sense of community that used to be a part of the doughnut culture. Do you have any favorite stories you've heard from your customers, or from your past?
Originally, community was not a part of the plan, but when he opened the first shop, Craig realized that people wanted a place to be able to hang and tell their story. There are so many stories people have surrounding doughnuts, and he didn't realize this whole part of American culture even existed. Now, they're here to share the love and be of service. He wants to help people find their favorite doughnut, even if they don't know what it is yet, so they can leave and feel satisfied.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
He would love all of us to spend less time racing around and more time enjoying the moment.

Thanks, Craig. And thanks to all of you who listen. Again, if you want to hear about waking up Gilbert Gottfried, overcoming addiction after being in LA county prison, intuition, authenticity in parenting, travel, and more, visit us at

Now, go have a doughnut!

George Walden (LITE) - Retired FDA & Pfizer Staff Member

In this LITE episode, host Abigail Wright talks with retired FDA & Pfizer staff member George Walden about the importance of friends, family, and activities, his views on the world today, and appreciating the differences in humanity. For more, visit to hear about his experiences with the FDA & Pfizer, the value in a single life, George's key to happiness and much more.

George Walden was born in Washington DC and was raised in Upper Marlboro, MD. He and his two brothers and two sisters still get together for family gatherings a couple of times during the year.

George completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1972. Following he graduation, he was hired by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Newark, NJ and worked for the FDA for 25 1/2 years as a Consumer Safety Officer. He was fortunate to take an early retirement with the FDA in 1997 and begin a career with Warner Lambert (later known as Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) as a Corporate Quality Auditor.  George worked for Warner Lambert/Pfizer, Inc. for 17 years and traveled to nearly 40 countries around the world. He retired from Pfizer in April 2015.

Now he spends his time practicing Aikido, Yoga, playing golf, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Show summary:
I don't think we've ever talked about this, but I got my master's degree at the University of MD in College Park, so I'm very familiar with DC and Prince George's county. What was it like for you, growing up in that area?
He remembers a fun upbringing with what he needed as the second of five children. Both his parents worked until George was born, when his mother agreed to stay home and take care it and them. Communal family dinners played an important role in keeping his family together. Although the community was quiet, without much to do, the children all found ways to keep themselves busy with sports, sledding, go karts, and other activities with friends.

It seems like growing up, in your jobs, and in the sports that you do, community is very important to you. How has that enhanced your life?
It's helped him see people differently, and as valuable. George tells us about experiences where he'd speak with people on the phone as part of his job helping other companies comply before meeting them in person. He might have a conversation where the person would complain about minorities or women or the government, and then meet the man in person. As the man met him and got to know him, he treated him incredibly kindly. "There's a lot of hatred and fear and animosity in the world, but people are people... Once we learn a little bit about each other and get to know each other, we find out, we're all the same." He believes his community upbringing contributed to his perspective on that.

What's your perspective on what's happening today in our culture? Between the current political climate, the extreme polarization of different viewpoints, and the recent resurgence of overt racism... is any of this new?
We discuss how it's not really new, but that now with the statements made by current leadership, people feel that they can express their extreme viewpoints.

How have you reacted to it, and what do you think we can do better as individuals to help improve society in general?
Let people have their space. George goes back to his story about the people he met in the FDA. If you give people space to get to know each other beyond biases and appearances, there's really no reason for people to hate each other.

What does happiness mean to you, in your life?
Happiness, for George means being able to do the things he wants to do, especially Aikido, golf, and being social and around people. His father's life consisted of work, the family, and the house. On forced vacations, he'd work on the house or visit family, or fish. When he retired, after a year or two, he had to go back to work. George believes you have to have something to keep you going.

Have you always been a pretty content person, or have you had to work at it?
George has been pretty content most of his life because he's always done things that keep him interested.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
More respect and more acceptance of each other. Everyone doesn't have to be the same, and that makes the world interesting.

Thanks for listening! For more, visit to hear about his experiences with the FDA & Pfizer, the value in a single life, George's key to happiness and much more.

G. Brian Benson (LITE) - Author, Filmmaker, & Actor

In this LITE episode of The Peace of Persistence, host Abigail Wright talks with author, filmmaker, and actor G. Brian Benson about the value of intuition, trusting the process, failure, balance, and more. For more on Brian's outlook on self-awareness, authenticity, the importance of being yourself with family and others, and more, check out our full version at, or just to support the show.

About Brian:
G. Brian Benson’s mission is to wake up the world with conscious, thought-provoking media that inspires.  As founder of Reawaken Media, Brian an award-winning author, filmmaker, actor and TEDx speaker, knows the value of trusting intuition and wants to share his own personal journey of self-growth, discovery and accomplishment to help others re-connect with their own personal truths to live an authentic and fulfilling life. As a 4x Ironman triathlete, Brian knows the value of hard work and never giving up on his dreams, a message he shares with audiences through each of his creative talents. Brian lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Show notes, links, etc:
Brian's List - 26 1/2 easy to use ideas on how to live a fun, balanced, healthy life!
Toastmasters -
"A Minute of Failure" poem -
"Searching for Happiness" short film -

Show summary:
What brought you to where you are now in life?
After running his family's golf center for about 8 or 9 years, Brian started to feel burned out. He felt like there was something else he needed to do, but he didn't know what yet. He had a supportive conversation with his father, and a year later, they had sold the business. During the last part of time while he was there, he found himself out of balance. As someone who likes to work on himself to be the best version of himself, he wrote down a list of 5 things he thought would help him and followed them.
From that list, within about 30 days, he expanded it into his first book, Brian's List - 26 1/2 easy to use ideas on how to live a fun, balanced, healthy life! The book also helped him by putting him on a path that forced him to do things he was uncomfortable with at first.

Uncomfortable with public speaking but knowing that he needed to promote his book, Brian signed up for public speaking classes and Toastmasters. To make himself more comfortable, he tried things that were outside of his comfort zone, creating a workshop and co-hosting an internet radio show. He even setup a book signing and workshop tour. Although he feels the tour wasn't wholly successful, he believes it was necessary.

Let's chat about your work as a writer. You've written nonfiction, children's books, and some poetry. What brought you into writing?
He really followed his intuition. As a young child, he told his mom he was put here to inspire people. Life got in the way for a time, but he finds that he's a decent writer who's able to channel what comes through him in a way that makes sense. With the self-help books and non-fiction, he taps into his own experiences and follows his intuition. With the children's books and poetry, he enjoys writing in rhyme and sees the creative process (which he loves) as more of a jigsaw puzzle.

You focus a lot on trusting your intuition, so I imagine it serves you very well in most cases. How do you push past doubts to allow yourself to once again trust your intuition after a fall?
Although it's not always easy, Brian has a positive, optimistic outlook. During the dips in the roller coaster of life, he still feels like it's going to be ok. He's had times where he felt frustrated, like he was working so hard, stuck in quicksand, and accomplishing nothing. Looking back, he realizes now that during those times, he tried to push, rather than take a break when he needed to. Now, realizing that the work can come through him quickly when he needs it to, he trusts his instincts to rest and gives himself the chance to fill his cup before returning to the process. That frustration he used to feel, before he trusted the process, coupled with his expectations about the future and some successes, set him up for some falls.

When his first children's book, Steve the Alien, first launched, he went through a period of depression. Although the launch went well, and he hit #1 in his category on Amazon, he came to a breaking point where he thought, "What's next?" He thought, if he worked so hard to put something he wanted so much out into the world and felt so miserable anyway, he didn't want to do it anymore. Because of that, he's since been very observant, intent on enjoying the ride and taking breaks when he needs to and celebrating his wins.

Speaking of falling, you wrote a poem called, “A Minute of Failure.” What value do you place on allowing yourself to fail, should we, and how can we make a habit of it?
There's a part of us that's ingrained in us to believe that it's not ok to fail, but if you look at successful people in any field, they have had tons of failures. Brian feels that's the only way for anyone to hone his/her craft and learn. He talks about the musician Steve Miller's perseverance, when he didn't have a hit until his seventh record. Overnight successes don't just happen. Brian's own 8-9 year journey, working on himself the whole way, has spilled into his own work, allowing him to more authentically share his insights with people. He likes to share what he has in common with others, not prescriptively but authentically. If he can stick it out, you can too, and as he's realized that he's enough, he wants you to realize that you are too.

Can I put you on the spot a little - would you read us the poem?
Brian reads his poem, "A Minute of Failure." Check out the link to his YouTube reading above, in the show notes.

You've competed in 4 Ironman triathlons, and clearly you work on your mental, emotional, and spiritual health as much as your physical health. Do you have any advice for keeping it all in balance?
Brian thinks it's a matter of paying attention, as Wayne Dyer says, being in the observer role of your own self. Specifically to notice and decipher the difference between when you're being physically or emotionally tired and going the other way to give yourself the kind of rest you need. He describes balance as a moving target. He recommends self-awareness first and believes that love for yourself is the foundation for everything.

You have this great short film called "Searching for Happiness." I'd love for you to talk about the film and what inspired you to write it.
A few years before he turned it into a film, Brian wrote it as he was searching for his own happiness, as so many of us do outside of ourselves sometimes. Nye Green directed, his brother Rhys Green edited, and Toby Sherriff did the soundtrack on this film with no dialogue. He believes that when we do service for others, it makes us feel good. By using B&W and colorized effects, Brian tries to share that simple, yet powerful message.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
That happiness comes from within, and that you're enough. Brian believes if you just quiet yourself and slow down enough to listen to your intuition, you can find happiness. "When we're in balance, we can hear our intuition come through stronger," he says, and he believes that if everyone believed they were enough, it would clear up a lot of problems in life.

Do you have any other advice for us?
Have more fun, and realize that you're enough. Writing his self-help books, Brian put a lot of pressure on himself, feeling like he had to be perfect. Now, coming back to his more fun side, he's finding it easier to be authentic. His advice is to be fun and be yourself.

Louis Levitt (LITE) - Artistic Entrepreneur & Chamber Musician

In this LITE episode, host Abigail Wright talks with Artistic Entrepreneur & Chamber Musician Louis Levitt about the value of close-knit ensembles, flexibility in parenting, envisioning things never done before, and more.

For full, un-cut access, including discussions on what children know that adults sometimes don't, learning about learning, the devaluation of recorded music, and more at

Louis is an artistic entrepreneur and internationally renowned chamber musician with an uncanny talent for performing, creating, implementing and maintaining groundbreaking musical ventures of the highest caliber.

As the double bassist of Sybarite5, Louis Levitt was the first ever double bassist to win the Concert Artist Guild Competition. Since then, he has performed with Sybarite5 in hundreds of concerts nationally and internationally, his debut EP with them cracked the top ten on the Billboard charts, and their follow up LP Everything in its Right Place was released at Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim. Their next album, Outliers, will be released later this season

In addition to performing with Sybarite5, Louis Levitt is currently an Artistic Director of Bright Shiny Things, a music collective for mezzo soprano and double bass. He is also in demand as a soloist and lecturer.  He has given masterclasses around the USA from Penn State to Fairbanks AK, has presented at the International Society of Double Bassists, and has spoken on the art of engagement at the APAP arts conference and the Curtis Institute, New England Conservatory & Mannes School. He's also currently a professor at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Louis lives in NYC with his wife, mezzo-soprano and actress Blythe Gaissert, and their two children.

Show notes:
You can find all Sybarite5 concerts at and Bright Shiny Things at You can find their music on iTunes, Google Play, on Bandcamp (their favorite), and at their fan pages on Facebook.

Show summary:
How did you get started with Bright Shiny Things, and what's your vision for it?
A composer and performer Gilda Lyons, hired Louis and his wife, mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert-Levitt, to sing a concert for the Phoenix Concert series in NYC. She wrote music specifically for them and commissioned music by other composers. They're able to add and subtract various instruments with a core of double bass and mezzo, and Louis is excited to be able to add words to the music in order to add a greater level of expression.

Sybarite5 is having their 10th anniversary!
To celebrate, they're releasing Outliers, with 10 new works from 10 new composers.

What has being a part of such a close-knit community added to your life?
You really get a chance to delve deep into the music, with more time spent on the music and discussions about the music.

What do you envision for your musical and professional goals going forward?
For Sybarite5, a lot of new music and collaborations, and a lot of new touring. He's also excited to see what he can do with Bright Shiny Things that he can't do with Sybarite5. Finally, he's thrilled to build the double bass program at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Louis discusses parenthood. No matter what you do to plan for it, you can never know how it's going to be, because everyone's situation is unique and individual. Sometimes, it works out well when one is touring and the other is home. Sometimes, it's difficult when they're both touring. Flexibility is key. Because he really wants to spend time with his kids, it helps him to hone in on what is really important and how he truly wants to spend his time, because it's so much more precious.

Looking back, do you have any advice for other freelance couples considering having kids?
Just have them. Start there. If it's something you want, you'll find a way to make it work. If you live somewhere where your family can help you, that's great. If not, you'll need a lot of help and money, but those things shouldn't stop you from having them.

What's your favorite accomplishment so far?
There was no precedent for Sybarite5. It took him 5 years to decide that it was a good idea to make something so new, despite the lack of historical data for it, without the validation for it. He's proud that they helped to tear down the wall for other ensembles in the classical music world wanting to form a new group. Memorable experiences include winning the Concert Artists Guild, premiering an album at Carnegie Hall. He loves the moments where they break through something and are able to challenge people's perceptions.

Have you always been happy, or was it something you had to learn?
For Louis, being unhappy is what helps you find happiness. He searched for happiness in an orchestra and then he went to a string quintet, and now he has Bright Shiny Things and teaching at a university. He finds happiness to be something not so easily defined, but his kids help him to be content. He talks about how musicians and artists are constantly pushing themselves to do more, because the possibilities with music are endless.

Other advice?
Focus on continued artistic growth. For anyone? Focus on self-growth. We have a lot of choices in our country, so you have to educate yourself on the choices you make.

Rachel Leventhal-Weiner (LITE) - Writer, Co-Host of Boy vs. Girl, and Data Engagement Specialist

Lite version - for full, un-cut, ad-free access, visit Seriously, this interview is so full - her thoughts on writing and cooking and wellbeing alone are worth the subscription. Anyway...

Rachel Leventhal-Weiner, PhD, is the Data Engagement Specialist at the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a public-private partnership advancing the use of open data to drive program and policy decisions. An educator, advocate and researcher, Rachel runs the CT Data Academy, a public education initiative designed to increase data literacy and expand data capacity in nonprofit organizations, state agencies and community groups. Before joining the Data Collaborative, she worked for nearly a decade in higher education as an administrator, professor, and advisor. Rachel earned her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of Connecticut and her Master’s degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She writes about faculty and family life for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae, blogs at, and co-hosts a weekly podcast on gender and gender stereotypes, Boy vs. Girl. She is the proud (if not overjoyed) mother of two exuberant little girls who keep her on my toes. Rachel loves to cook most things from scratch, wishes she had more time to crochet, and is never going to give up on her dream of running a (half) marathon. She loves a good hike, a great cocktail, and time with her incredible husband (of over a decade), David.

Ok. You're clearly a big fan of data. What kind of data do you deal with, and is it really so hard to convince people that we should use facts to inform policy?
-Rachel works to encourage everyone she works with to consider the people behind the data and uses that in the non-profit industry which is increasingly having to use data in their work. "Data are people, and the more we use data to inform our work, the better impact we have on people's lives."

I love your podcast, Boy vs Girl. You and your co-host Matt have a great rapport, and I love your honest look at gender issues and stereotypes. What message or messages are you hoping to convey on your show?
-Consciousness raising. She says they don't have any specific message, but her goal is to push back against gender stereotypes and figure out how and why we harbor them and why they persist. She credits Matt to a lot of the consciousness raising. She loves receiving feedback from listeners that something they discussed on the show made them think or made them uncomfortable with the status quo. Disruption and a lack of contentment about the inequality between men and women in our society is necessary. She wants to encourage people to question the norms in society, the way we act, why we don't push back against unfair treatment, etc.

It also sounds like you appreciate activity as a source of well-being, between your love of hiking and your desire to run a half-marathon... How do you make time, in your busy routine while raising a family?
-It took her a really long time to make time for it. She really needed a way to de-stress while working in a toxic environment. As a researcher, she researched all of the things she could do, made a list and looked to see which would fit in her schedule. The one that made the most sense was a 5:30am bootcamp class. As a result, she's more disciplined with how she uses her time, she enjoys the company of the dozen people she sees twice a week, and she's finding physical strength in ways she never had. She's a better person because of it, with more energy, and she sleeps better.

Personally, I struggle sometimes with the stress of maintaining and furthering my career while producing this show and trying to make a living in the city... You keep a lot of plates spinning, so I'm wondering if you have any time management tips for me and the rest of our audience?
-Informally, Rachel likes to keep about 2 weeks in advance of her schedule in her head at any given time. It helps her to know what to change or push back, and it keeps her from getting too overwhelmed by not looking too far in advance. Saying no is also another way to manage time. She also recommends being intentional about side hustles and whether they're paid or at least going to produce dividends in some way down the road, and being honest about your physical needs, especially sleep and rest. On a long-term goal setting basis, she plans out, even for a year, how she wants to prioritize her time. Although she's kind to herself when things sometimes don't get done, it really helps to make time for important things, like spending time alone with her husband.

What does success look like to you, at this point in your life?
-For the first time, they have flexibility and autonomy in their schedules and are all able to come home at the same time each night to be with their family. They have their health and peace, and Rachel sees success so differently from the status-based and tenure-track life she once wanted to lead.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently (as if through your eyes), what would it be?
-Racism. To even try to see something from someone else's perspective can inform so many future interactions.
How do we start?
-"Engaging honestly with our history." If we can play violent video games, we can discuss the violent nature of slavery. She recommends reading narrative histories and really facing uncomfortable truths about the underlying causes of so many biases and hatred.

Do you have any other advice for us?
-Be kind to yourself. A lot of our goals require transformation, and it's important to be patient and see all of the good things happening along the way.

Mukund Marathe (LITE), Part 2 - 2x Jeopardy! Winner, Tenor, & Teacher

This is part 2 of a two-part episode. If you haven't already, check out last week's for part one.

Lite version - for full, un-cut, ad-free access, visit

Mukund Marathe discovered Beethoven at age 8 and the Beatles at age 9, and the resulting pleasant confusion has remained with him all of his musical life, as evidenced by the fact that he has performed almost every kind of music imaginable, from early music to modern jazz.  His favorite musical activities include the Evangelist in the Bach Passions, Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, Lyle Lovett songs in church, and being what he calls a utility infielder (meaning he sings tenor or alto in various groups). Mukund was a member of the New York City Opera company for 27 years, toured with the Gregg Smith Singers, and has sung with jazz legend Dave Brubeck, on The Letterman Show, on South African television, and literally all around the world. He spends his free time reading science fiction, practicing calligraphy, dancing, making his garden grow, recently becoming a two-time Jeopardy! champion, and explaining to his two sons why people say such Awful Things about Tenors.  He says his wife, Mezzo-soprano Mary Marathe, already knows.

Mukund gets a lot of satisfaction out of performing and from helping his students make breakthroughs. One of his favorite breakthroughs is helping them realize how human emotions haven't really changed much in the hundreds or thousands of years that music has been written.
Passing along his expansive view of the universe, he thinks nothing happens in a vacuum and likes to keep in mind a greater understanding of culture and knowledge for his students.

Being a freelance musician has been Mukund's greatest struggle. "The only reason you become a musician is because there is no choice." Despite his love of music, the financial struggle can make things difficult, and he's grateful that his spouse understands because she goes through it too. His family has always been there for him, and he's at peace with the life he's chosen but knows that he'll miss it when he transitions into mostly teaching.

Mukund defines success as being able to do what he loves. His family is a success, especially his two children who are some of the nicest people he knows, and he believes the world is a better place because they're in it. Jeopardy! and Carnegie are things that happened to him; whereas his family and what he does are who he is, and he considers himself incredibly lucky.

Habits or traits that contribute to Mukund's happiness or success?
Stubbornness! It helps him to keep striving in a tough profession. His ability to look at the world with humor, in a "kind of cockeyed fashion" has helped keep him going too.

Although he carries a high-energy performer persona, he has doubts and struggles just like everyone else. He believes it's more important to be kind than to be right, and he wants people to remember him as a kind person above all else.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
Mukund wants people to get along and finds humor to be a great peacemaker.

Life is too serious to take it so seriously.

Thanks for joining us on The Peace of Persistence Lite! To hear what Alex Trebek said about Mukund's wife, his surrealistic riddles, and how he learns motivation through his students, visit for double the content and zero ads... or just because you love the show and want to support it. See you there!