Taking the Middle Seat next to Sarah Jean Anderson

On Episode 23, I’m talking to Sarah Jean Anderson. She is an artist, comedian, event host, mentor and musician. She has the best energy and I could not wait to edit this episode and get it out to you! You will love her!

Sarah Jean is a part of two comedy troupes, Comedy Coven (Comedy Coven on Facebook) and Funny Girls (Funny Girls on Facebook). Go follow them and watch their videos and attend their events! And… if you love to watch live comedy, Funny Girls is opening a comedy club called Comedy Project (Comedy Project on Facebook) so stay tuned.

Sarah Jean is one of the incredible mentors and leaders at Girls Rock Grand Rapids. I talk about Girls Rock absolutely all. the. time. because it is the most magical space for girls to be. It is a land of possibility and joy and courage and Sarah Jean exemplifies that.

She also mentors kids at the Creative Youth Center. Her story about Orchard View Elementary publishing center brought back so many memories. We talk a lot about our early forays into writing. Basically writing gold.

Sarah Jean said her favorite job is to host events and she is amazing at it! She hosts trivia night at the Apartment Lounge and at Maggies. You can also hire her to host your events!

I’ve just scratched the surface of what Sarah Jean does! She also performs burlesque with Super Happy Fun Time and Shimmy Shack Burlesque. She’s a musician with The Fancy Restaurants.

Sarah Jean’s favorite things include Palace of India, Curry Kitchen, her dog Polka and her boyfriend who co-founded Dog Story Theater, the weather, the Thriller Chiller Film Festival, burlesque including her friend Vivacious Miss Audacious, The Simpsons (her tattoo is from season 7, episode 14), the movie Mother, her best friend, coffee, Vander Mill Cider, and Sword and Scale podcast. I think I missed a few…. oh, she loves Grand Rapids’ West side and the Midwest. Her favorites abound.

Sarah Jean is absolutely incredible and I know you’ll love her interview. I’ll be back soon with another episode and until then, keep moving in to hear the magic in the middle seat.


Taking the Middle Seat next to Lauren Taylor

On Episode 22, I’m talking to Lauren Taylor who is running for State Representative in Michigan’s 86th district (district map). She calls herself the a “democrat for common ground,” and she is exactly that. She seeks common ground when most people would give up. I loved hearing about her journey to run for public office. No matter your political label, I think you’ll love hearing Lauren’s passion and emotion and drive to make our world a better place for EVERYONE.

Follow Lauren on Facebook and Instagram. My favorite thing about following Lauren on social media is the pictures of her constituents with their top issues written on her signature white board. So many issues matter to ALL of us when someone actually stops to ask.

Lauren loves her chickens! Aren’t chickens great? I don’t have any but I do love them. Two of my neighbors have backyard chickens and I think they’re so rad.

Lauren also talks about getting involved as a way to stay positive and stay connected. If Lauren really resonates with you, CONTACT HER. I know she would love that!

I have found that connecting to causes helps me stay positive and I’ll list a few places I’ve found lately: Swing Left allows you to make one donation that will be split evenly among close Democratic races. Many are women and/or people of color who are running for office. Rachel Cargle is raising money to fund therapy for women and girls of color. She is also a leader I’m listening to. We Are Lit is my source for great books that make me think and I love supporting this woman-owned small business.

Keep taking the middle seat, listener. You, and the world, will be so happy you did.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Sarah Hartley with Holl & Lane Magazine

On Episode 21, I’m talking to Sarah Hartley, Editor in Chief of Holl & Lane Magazine. She describes the magazine by saying, “This is a revolution to show women, you are perfect as you are and there are other women just like you who have been standing right where you feel you are right now.” A REVOLUTION!! Yes!!! Soak in the whole Holl & Lane manifesto. We talk about the manifesto in our conversation and how it guides the intention of every issue.

The next issue of Holl & Lane is coming out Tuesday, October 16! And what exact subject do we need right now? Sarah knew we’d need this. It’s all about IMPACT. Subscribe right this minute. You’ll be so glad you did!

Follow Holl & Lane on Facebook and Instagram. Sarah and Jess craft gorgeous social media posts. I also just discovered that Jess has a rad business called Chaotic & Collected where she creates handmade party decor. So cool! If you’re a writer, check out H&L Writes too! The third member of the H&L team, Mia, helps with that and has an awesome blog you should follow.

I love Sarah’s idea of creating a “Sunshine Folder!” I keep a pile of cards that I’ve received in my desk drawer. So fun to look at those on the hard days.

Sarah’s favorite things include This is Us (I think I’m the only human who does not watch this), Armchair Expert podcast, photography, and Chatbooks.

Go take the middle seat, dear listener!  You'll love the magic you find there.

Sarah Hartley, Editor in Chief of Holl & Lane Magazine

Sarah Hartley, Editor in Chief of Holl & Lane Magazine

Taking the Middle Seat next to E+L Salon

On Episode 20 of Taking the Middle Seat, I'm talking to Erin and Lauren, owners of E+L Salon. Not only do these women do amazing hair, they hold space for people in this community to feel Elevated and Loved. Get it. E+L. Love it!

Erin and Lauren are co-hosting an event (a costume party!!) called, Out of the Shadows on October 27. All proceeds will benefit Mental Health Awareness Month and Be Nice. This event sounds incredible and I love that it is highlighting such an important issue. You should go!!!!

They have held other events including in their space that have focused on the Refugee Education Center and Green Circle Salons.

Erin’s favorite thing is her gym, Allegro. And she’s loving being a meerkat (listen to the end of the podcast for meerkat facts) and an empath.

Lauren’s favorite things include meal planning (I just started loving Plan to Eat for meal planning. You should try it!), Daily Harvest, and Forks over Knives.

Go take the middle seat, dear listener!  You'll love the magic you find there.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Jessica Honegger

On Episode 19 of Taking the Middle Seat, I'm talking to Jessica Honegger, founder and co-CEO of Noonday Collection.  She's an author of the recently released book, Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared.  She is also a podcast host at The Going Scared Podcast.  Jessica is the real deal.  She's genuine and thoughtful and hilarious and brave and I had so much fun learning from and her and talking with her. (Jessica on Facebook and Instagram)

Noonday Collection is a socially conscious fashion brand that is making an incredible impact in the world.  Shop with my fave Noonday ambassador, Shari Meyering!  The Fall line launched recently and you guys... all. the. big. earrings.  I could scoop them all up!  If I had to pick one favorite pair, it would be these.

After you put on those big Noonday earrings, I'm telling you, you NEED THIS BOOK.  It is the best encouragement and motivation and call to action.  You will resonate with the stories.  You'll be moved to connect.  And you'll be readied for action.  Jessica will be in Grand Rapids this week!!!  Check out the event and get tickets here!

*** I want to encourage listeners to purchase any recommended books from We Are Lit, a Grand Rapids local and woman-owned business. If she doesn't have the book right on her website, you can just request it on the website here.

Jessica mentions Be The Bridge, a Christian racial reconciliation movement.  Learn more about Latasha Morrison and her incredible work on this podcast episode with Jen Hatmaker.

Jessica's favorite things: Noonday, of course (here's the coolest necklace that she wears a lot), yellow as an accent color (here she is rocking the yellow at her book launch party), her signature scent Santal 33, and Fireclay Tile.  

Go take the middle seat, dear listener!  You'll love the magic you find there.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to The Nourish to Flourish Society

On Episode 18 of Taking the Middle Seat, I'm talking to Angelle Batten and Jill Tanis, co-founders of The Nourish to Flourish Society which is "a place where women fall in love with nourishing mind, body and spirit with simple soulful self care practices, delicious food and a supportive community" (from The Nourish to Flourish Society website).  

Jill and Angelle describe themselves as life coaches for women with an expertise in health.  I am not kidding when I say that I LOVE the space they have created for women to thrive.  Check out the 14 Day Fall Reset!!  I promise you will love it.

Jill and Angelle are hosting an upcoming event called Soiree on September 26.  I know it will be nourishing and beautiful and worth every cent.  Grab you buddies and go!

I talked about how I found The Nourish to Flourish Society through my friend Shari Meyering who is an ambassador for Noonday Collection.  You'll find some of my favorite big earrings from Noonday here.

Angelle and Jill   s h o w e d  u p   with some incredible favorites!

Jill's Faves: Practicing sabbath (here's a book on sabbath by Wayne Muller), Slow Down Diet, jasmine green tea, Lake Michigan, Grocer's Daughter Chocolates, OXO good grips Y peeler, Vitamix, Cutco chef knife, microplane, Young Living, Barbara Brown Taylor, Rob Bell's Robcast.

Angelle's Faves: Bark Thins, Autumn's Gold grain free granola, water pillow, Car Talk episodes, Grace & Frankie on Netflix, The Book of She.

I was not prepared when they asked me about MY favorite things but now that I think about it...  I have a favorite vegetable peeler that I won in a white elephant gift exchange and I just ordered these earrings from Noonday.  Favorite things for the win! 

I'll be back soon!  Until then, take the middle seat.  You'll love what happens.


Taking the Middle Seat next to Emily Martin

On episode 17 of Taking the Middle Seat, I'm talking to Emily Martin, owner of Any Body Yoga.  She champions body positive and mindfulness based yoga.  I could not love her mission more - To create brave spaces for all bodies to practice radical self love through embodied movement.  (From Any Body Yoga Facebook page)  You're going to love her encouragement when she says, "There is no wrong way to have a body."

She has a rad series of classes coming up called Body Positive Yoga: A Yoga Series for Healing Body Image.  Get all the info on the Facebook event.  I need a buddy to do this with!

Emily mentions another yoga teacher who she loves - Dana Falsetti who also has a podcast you might want to check out.  A body positive activist and yoga teacher I love to follow is Jessamyn Stanley.

*** I want to encourage listeners to purchase any recommended books from We Are Lit, a Grand Rapids local and woman owned business.  If she doesn't have the book right on her website, you can just request it on the website here

Emily recommends all sorts of great resources:

Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, The Body is Not an Apology (OHMYGOODNESS, this is such a gorgeous book), A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness and Yoga for All Training

I loved Emily's favorite things!  She loves milkweed and Frosty Boy (they close October 14!)  and Tunde Olaniran.

I'll be back soon to explore the magic in the middle seat.


Taking the Middle Seat next to Megan Seeley

On episode 16 of Taking the Middle Seat, I'm talking to Megan Seeley, owner of The Goal Designer.  She does Planner Matching and 1 on 1 coaching.  She also runs a rad Facebook group called Moms Reclaiming Their Time Guilt-Free.  She was inspired to create all of this after a very hard season when she had a baby and was diagnosed with a chronic illness, Grave's Disease.  She now encourages moms as an anti-productivity coach.  Isn't that awesome!  

I would definitely encourage you to take Megan's Planner Quiz!  She'll give you some great ideas on what to look for in a planner that fits your lifestyle.

The planner that Megan uses is The Simplified Planner from Emily Ley.  I'm doing a planner match session with Megan really soon so I'll let you know which one I pick!

Megan talks about her favorite self care is doing lots of things she loves all-at-the-same-time.  One of the things she loves is Lush bath bombs.  A locally made bath bomb soap maker I love is Maggie Ann Soap Co.  

Megan loves true crime.  She is my people.  Best true crime podcast of all time... My Favorite Murder.  SSDGM!

She also loves the Courage and Clarity Podcast with Steph Crowder.  Megan was on that podcast on this episode.

Her other loves... cozy mysteries, author Karen McInerney and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel. 

I'll be back soon to explore the magic in the middle seat. 


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Taking the Middle Seat next to Strawesome and Nutcase Vegan Meats

On episode 14 of Taking the Middle Seat, I have a double feature for you! 

In the first half, I'm talking to Daedra Surowiec, founder and artist behind Strawesome, a glass drinking straw company.  She trained as an architect and also worked as a natural childbirth educator but her path wound around to glass straws!  You will hear her passion for creativity and sustainability.  Strawesome straws make the coolest gifts.  You get a straw and you get a straw and you get a straw! 

Daedra let us know that 500 million plastic draws are used in the United Stated everyday!!  Educate yourself regarding single use plastic.  Here's a graphic I found really helpful to wrap my mind around this issue.  I know I'm getting better at toting my reusable bags into the grocery store and using my glass straw.  Every little bit helps.  If you're working on this too, check out the book Daedra mentioned, Zero Waste Home.

Here's my favorite Strawesome straw for a cause.  Proceeds go to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  I also mention that I first heard about Strawesome from The Nourish to Flourish Society.  They'll be on a future episode so keep listening to hear their story too.

Daedra learned her glass blowing technique called torch work at the Glass Academy in Dearborn, MI.

Daedra said she loves the best parts of social media!  You can follow Strawesome on Facebook and Instagram

She also loves her RTIC tumbler and tower garden.  I love the idea of a wildlife-proof garden that flourishes in the basement!!!  So cool.

On the second half, I sit down with Monica Randles from Nutcase Vegan Meats.  She and her husband, Andrew Maternowski, are physicians who decided to pursue a vegetarian lifestyle in 2010.  You'll hear Monica talk about their path to creating the most yummy product that is fun to cook with and tastes amazing.  I am not vegetarian or vegan and I seriously LOVE their product.  

Monica mentions the movie Food Inc. and she talks about a book I am absolutely going to read called How Not to Die.  Both of those were influential in the genesis of Nutcase Vegan Meats.

Monica's favorite things include a book called Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch, transcendental meditation, and another book called Sky Above Great Wind about the life and poetry of Zen master Ryokan.

Follow Nutcase Vegan Meats on Facebook and Instagram.  Also, make sure to attend Nutty Burger Bash on August 12!

Thank you for listening and I hope you'll spend time this week, Taking the Middle Seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Steffanie Rosalez

On episode 13 of Taking the Middle Seat, I'm talking to Steffanie Rosalez, Director at the Cook Arts Center which is part of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities.  She is a visual artist, a musician, a leader in her community and she has a machete tattoo.  Basically, she's the freaking best. I know her from her leadership at Girls Rock Grand Rapids which is the transformative summer rock and roll camp my daughter has been involved in for the past few years.  Steffanie and a group of other totally rad and powerful women run the camp.  We talk about community and joy.  We talk about tokenism and privilege.  We talk about art and self care.  

The Audre Lorde quote Steffanie mentions is this... "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."  Powerful.

Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association page gives you lots of great information about things happening along the whole Grandville Avenue corridor.

Steffanie has also been involved in the Cultura Collective.  We didn't talk about this during the interview but you should check it out! 

Steffanie loves contemporary art and she's loving the PBS series Art 21

She also loves the UICA.  You should go there on family day or catch a movie.  It is such a cool space.  You get a gold star if you can find the picture of my family and I on their website.

Follow Steffanie's band How to Live Together on their Facebook page.  You'll hear her light up when she talks about her music.  She's a multi-tasking musician.  T-shirts coming soon. ; )

If you're wondering how to help or get involved in protecting immigrant families, I love the organization Together Rising.  

Thank you for listening and I hope you'll spend time Taking the Middle Seat this week.  

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Jennifer Stewart

On episode 13 of Taking the Middle Seat, I'm talking to Jennifer Stewart, associate professor of sociology at Grand Valley State University.  She founded an organization called Act on Racism in 2005.  Since then it has evolved and changed but it has always been a powerful force for connection and change both for the participants and the observers.  Like so many of us, Jennifer never thought she'd be a leader in this particular way but life leads us to spaces that will use our gifts and teach us what we need to learn.  

I get a little emotional in this one because I very recently lost a friend way too soon.  I encourage each one of you to reach out to your people and tell them what you love about them.  This episode is dedicated to my friend because she was always taking the middle seat and lighting up those around her.  

Check out the latest happenings of Act on Racism here.

Jennifer's favorite band is called My Morning Jacket.

Follow the adorable Fiona the Hippo on Facebook here

The other Fiona, Jennifer's sweet rescue dog is on Instagram here

Are you following Ludwik the hairless guinea pig yet?  You should be!!!  Find him here in all his hairless glory.

Jennifer and I talk about the incredible cuisine of the 1950's and 60's.  This is an actual salad I constructed as a child.  We called it a Candle Salad.  An. Actual. Childhood. Chore. I. Was. Assigned. 

And if no one has told you that you are loved today.  You are.  

I'll be back soon to explore the magic in the middle seat.

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This Seat's Taken: Gifts for Fathers or just about anyone

I love giving gifts!  So any chance to tell others about cool gifts, makes me happy.  We happen to be coming up on Father's Day so these gifts would be great for those people in your life who father.  They'd also be great for anyone!  Holidays that pinpoint a specific type of receiver are tricky for lots of reasons so I just think of them as a way to spread some joy to whoever needs it.  Shop these links and tell them that Taking the Middle Seat sent you! 

Bow Tie Cause - Search bow ties by the particular cause they support.

Bold Socks Statement Sockwear - Locally owned sock company.  Each pair of socks provides clean drinking water for 100 days for 1 person in Africa via sustainable methods.

Books and Mortar - Local independent bookshop.  Best place to shop books, cards and gifts right here on Cherry St. in Grand Rapids, MI

We are Lit - Online local bookseller that offers culturally curated books shipped nationwide.  

Libro.fm - Audio book shop that supports independent booksellers.  Click the link to get your first month free!

Sage Harvest Jerky - Yummy jerky that donates a portion of their profits to a different charity each month.

Boss Mouse Cheese smoked butter - We recently visited this farm and their cheese is amazing but they also make SmOkEd BuTtEr!!!!  So yummy!  You can order online any time.

Pink House Alchemy cocktail bitters - Anyone who loves a craft cocktail will love a super special cocktail ingredient to add to their bar.  

Pine Valley Outfitters - Hammocks and general outdoorsiness.  The company supports efforts to end homelessness.

Guillotine card game - A Lundskow family favorite!  Collect the noble's heads and you win.  

TableTopics question cards - Great conversation starters for road trips, family night or any time.

HQ - A runaway and homeless youth drop in center in Grand Rapids.  Donate to support their mission or purchase off of their Amazon wishlist.

The Laundry Truck LA - They provide laundry services to people experiencing homelessness in LA.  Donate to support their cause!

That's it for now so go spread the love!  Whether you have the best dad in the world, no dad at all, are grieving your dad, or know lots of people who father in different ways, we call spread love in the coming weeks.  I hope your people feel like you've taken the middle seat right next to them when you give them these gifts.  

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Bri Luginbill

On episode 11 of Taking the Middle Seat, I talk to Bri Luginbill.  She is a photographer and body positivity activist.  She struggled with body image issues for many years but has turned her struggle into beauty and social change.  She is passionate about helping others do the same.  I especially loved all of Bri's resources she talked about and I can't wait for you to connect with her too!   

Bri's organization, Better Body Image Conference, is doing incredible work.  Check it out!

Her next awesome event is an encore screening of The Illusionists on June 13, 2018.  Event details and tickets are here.  Even the movie trailer is powerful!

She's also an INCREDIBLE photographer at The People Picture Company.

Bri mentions Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome.  You can read more about it on the BWS Children’s Foundation International website

You can see Bri in action here talking about her Go Boldly, Love Your Body campaign that she did in 2014.

Connie Flachs is Bri's partner in this activism.  You can connect with her here or on Instagram.

Bri talked about the Straight Curve Film.  It looks so cool!  You can see a preview here

Bri truly is a fount of resources!  She mentioned so many cool organizations.  Here are the links:

Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance 

A Beautiful Me - a body positive program for girls.

YWCA summer programs, Activism Academy and Becoming a Girl Boss

Jenna Kutcher - business owner and online influencer.  Follow the link to read about how she walks confidently in her skin next to her very typically-gorgeous husband.

Jessica Honegger (She founded Noonday Collection and talks openly about the myth of thigh gap.  She's clearly awesome.)

In favorite things time, we talk about The Turquoise Table.  I'd paint my table this color.

Bri also roasts her own coffee beans in a Whirly Pop.  She's a total girl boss, you guys.  I found a how-to article here if you want to jump on in and roast some beans.

Bri loves thrift store shopping so that means we need to listen to Macklemore's Thrift Shop.  We just have to.

I think that does it!  Go look in the mirror and love the heck out of what you see!  I just tried on this swimsuit at the mall (normally not a swimsuit tryer on-er because of the bad lighting, bad angles, bad attitude etc.) and loved it!  I did not purchase because I just don't need it right now but I truly let myself just feel beautiful.  No except for's or if only's.  Just beautiful as I am.  Felt pretty damn good.  So go fearlessly and freely into the summer.  I'll be back soon to take the middle seat.


This Seat's Taken: Podcastery

I'm starting a new occasional series of little pods called This Seat's Taken.  I just couldn't help myself with that name.  Cracks me up every time.  The little pods will be just that: little.  Snippets of things I love, things I want to share, people I want to laugh with.  Could be anything.  

This time I'm talking PODCASTS!  Why I love them.  Why you should love them.  All of it.  I talk about a bunch of my faves and I'll list their details below so you can find them too.  I've linked to all of the websites for these pods but you'll want to go to iTunes or your podcast player to Subscribe!

Wild Mystic Woman Podcast by Layla Saad.  Episode 18 with Catrice Jackson taught me SO much.  You can also find Catrice Jackson's work and books here.

The Red Couch Podcast with rapper and activist Propaganda and his wife Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty.  They have taught me so much on a whole range of topics and I particularly love their segment called Hood Politics.

On Being with Krista Tippett.  Ta-Nehisi Coates' episode is #52, I think.  : )  Search it out on iTunes because Krista Tippett can teach me anything and Ta-Nehisi Coates can wake me up every time.

Another Round with Tracy Clayton and Heben Nagatu.  You'll laugh and learn and fall in love.  These amazing women talk about pop culture, mental health, surviving white culture, bad jokes.  Everything.

Mogul with Reggie Ossé.  Tells the life and death of hip hop music executive Chris Lighty.  A beautifully done documentary about hip hop, addiction, mental health and striving.  

Ear Hustle with Nigel Poor, a prison volunteer and visual artist and Earlonne Woods, a man currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.  This is one of my tippy tip top faves!  They cover all aspects of incarceration and I love how it humanizes incarcerated individuals.

Crimes in Color with Keyerra.  She tells true crime stories involving victims who are people of color since these stories are underrepresented in media.  

Caught.  This one highlights youth in the criminal justice system.

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom.  As I said on the little pod, I think exonerated people are some of the most incredible people you will ever hear speak.  They are forgiving and grateful and wise and hopeful.  They have taught me and I'm sure they'll teach you.

Selfie with Kristen Howerton and Sarah James.  They talk about all aspects of self care.  Makeup to relationships.  Personality types to purses.  It is girly in the best way.

The New Activist.  Tells the stories of change makers all over the world. This one is from what I would call a social justice Christian perspective.

Everything Happens with Kate Bowler.  She's in her thirties and has been through. some. things.  She knows that it might not all work out with a bow on top but we still can find connection and beauty.  

Terrible, Thanks for Asking with Nora McInerny.  When you lose your father and husband within a few weeks, you can gain some perspective in a hurry.  Nora is the most hilarious and quirky host.  We could be best friends.  I'm certain.  This is another tippity toppity fave!

Kid podcasts!  Tumble, Brains On and Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Podcast

S-Town - I can't even begin to explain this one.  All I can say is start at the beginning and buckle up for the story ride.

The Black Tapes - This one is like a creepy novel, a podcast documentary, and an old-timey radio drama all rolled in one.  You can get your binge-listen on because there's a whole heap of episodes already recorded.  Start at the beginning and lose yourself in it.

And if you've never experienced SNL's Delicious Dish, here's probably their most famous episode.

I hope you love these podcasts and I'll be back soon to take the middle seat.


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Taking the Middle Seat next to Andi Adams

On episode 9 of Taking the Middle Seat, I talk to Andi Adams.  She is a middle school teacher and teaches reading and special education classes.  She is mom to 2 busy middle school-age kiddos and to a precious rescue dog.  I talked to Andi a week or so ago but I hurried to get this episode out when I heard about yet another deadly school shooting.  I wanted to go to an expert source to hear about gun violence in schools and I believe teachers are the experts.  She states her strong belief that automatic weapons do not belong anywhere in our communities but also goes beyond that to talk about why teachers should be the sources of wisdom to create effective policy change that will keep our children safe.  I love our conversation and I'm so grateful she took time out of her busy day of teaching to talk to me.   

If you want to get involved in this issue, an organization I love is Everytown for Gun Safety.  This includes Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action.  Dip a pinky toe in or jump all the way in.  Activism in all forms helps.

Andi mentions her fave accessory company, Two Copper Sparrows.  I checked them out and I LOVE the story behind this little company.  Amy, the owner gives a portion of her proceeds to organizations that work with people who struggle with post traumatic stress syndrome and post partum/pre natal depression.  I'm absolutely picking up these earrings ASAP.  True Red or Hennessy?   Maybe both. 

Andi also mentions her adorable adopted dog named Piper.  You can and should follow Piper on the Instagrams @Piper_the_Pitbull_.  I love our rescue dogs, Abbie and Charlie so Andi and I get all sappy over our little quirky rescues.  

So go thank a teacher for taking care of our babies like they are their own.  Because of teachers like Andi, I have hope that we will make change on this issue.  I'll be back soon with another episode but until then, keep taking the middle seat.


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Taking the Middle Seat next to Julius Hight

On episode 8 of Taking the Middle Seat, I talk to Julius Hight, founder of Reset GR.  He is a father, vocalist, and community activist.  He loves his city of Grand Rapids, MI but he also recognizes the change that needs to happen here.  He has walked through the criminal justice system and knows the disparity and injustice that exists there first hand.  I know you'll hear his passion and I hope you listen intently to his truth and his perspective.  

Follow Rest GR on Facebook

Reset GR needs our support!  You can give financially to the organization at their GoFundMe campaign.  Reset GR is currently working on getting their 501c3 status which costs money so any little donation helps.  Julius also said that they would love donations of computers or iPads or cell phones.  He does all of the coordination for Reset GR on his phone and he could use a computer.  So, if you have one to donate, email him directly at hightjulius@gmail.com.

Julius encouraged us all to learn, learn, learn and I love that!  A great place to start is the documentary film, The 13th.  You need to watch this film.  You can see the trailer here.  If you don't have Netflix, find someone who does and watch it together.  It is an experience we all need to have. 

Julius mentions GRABB which is Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.  They have a great directory of African American owned businesses. 

He also mentions a bunch of news stories, local and national.  If you're like me, you might not be informed about those so I've gathered some links to get you up to speed.  You can learn about rapper Meek Mill's story here.  

You can learn more about NFL footbal player and activist, Colin Kaepernick at his website.  

We talked about several local Grand Rapids stories involving racism and racial injustice.  The story Julius mentions that happened in Forest Hills Schools is written about here.  

Grab a copy of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  This one is high on my list and I need to jump into it.  I hope Julius and Reset GR start that book club!

Have a comment about this episode?  Let's start a discussion!  You can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram.  I'd love for you to share the podcast with your friends.  The more the merrier. 

Oh, and I mention Citizen, the cool parrot glass restaurant that my husband I went to recently for our "C" alpha date.  If you're local, you should go!

I'll be back soon with another episode but until then, keep taking the middle seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Carlos Kulas-Dominguez

On episode 7 of Taking the Middle Seat, I talk to Carlos Kulas-Dominguez.  This episode gets personal in the best way, you guys.  We have a great conversation about Carlos' journey that led him to acknowledging some addictions he had in his life and how he is now pursuing recovery and connection.  We talk about how our friendship wove through his story and how we both have learned from that.  We check off the Middle Seat boxes of acceptance, healing laughter and community.  

You'll hear that I have a cold during this episode so my voice sounds a little off.  But you know what is good for helping symptoms of a cold that Carlos is super knowledgeable about??? Essential oils!  You can find his fave brand here.

He's also a Thai massage practitioner so ask him about that too at his Facebook page.  Carlos does a great job at motivating and encouraging so go ahead and follow him.  Or better yet, send him a message.  Connection is what it is all about!

You can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram

I'll be back soon with another episode but until then, keep taking the middle seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Val Cobbs - Episode 6

On episode 6 of Taking the Middle Seat, I talk to Val Cobbs, Senior Regional Manager at the National Kidney Foundation.  She shares about how NKF is addressing diabetes and high blood pressure, chronic conditions that are the major causes of kidney failure and disproportionately affect communities of color.  Val is a staunch advocate for wellness and community and breaking down barriers.  She teaches me with her every word and I hope you will listen to her wisdom.

Check out the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and the Diabetes Improvement Program (DIP) at the National Kidney Foundation website.  You can get involved as a facilitator or a participant.  Share this resource with your people who may need it!

If you want to donate to the 2018 Kidney Walk that benefits NKF and happens on April 22, go here.  I'll be walking in honor of the living kidney donors I work with each and every day.

Val mentions her precious pit bull, King.  Speaking of animals, have you ever watched Pit Bulls and Parolees?  You should.  Do you follow Ludwik_guinea_pig on Instagram?  You should.  There, I made your life better.

Val shows up every single day in her life and makes this world a better place.  She continuously teaches me to do. the. work.  Even when I doubt my place in the work.  Even when I second guess if I know what to do.  She wisely tells us to do our work.  

I'll be back soon with another episode but until then, keep taking the middle seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Christine Mwangi

On episode 5 of Taking the Middle Seat, I talk to Christine Mwangi, founder of Be A Rose.  She shares about how she is taking on the issue of period poverty.  We talk about how women have always made do - we have always managed but what if we could do better for each other.  Christine is hilarious and wise and I cannot wait for you to hear her words.

Check out Be A Rose here.  Then get involved!  You can connect with Be A Rose to volunteer, host a Party with a Purpose, donation drive, or shop their Amazon Wishlist.

I'm going to be a drop-off site for donated period products so bring them any time to the Taking a Middle Seat headquarters (ie. my front porch) - 1145 Eastwood Ave SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506.   Let's fill my porch with products to give to Be A Rose!!!

I've already learned so much from the Be A Rose Blog.  Check it out!

Curious about the reusable period products we mentioned?  Here they are: Thinx, Diva Cup, cloth pads (there are many types of these so explore away).  And one we didn't mention but one that intrigues me... Knixteen.  And I know you're dying to know my fave period products, right?  My fave brand is L.  You can order them from the website or find them at Target.

I'm super intrigued by period apps.  Check out this article for some app options.  I'd love to know if you're already using an app and which ones you love!

Christine loves tacos at Donkey.  Their beet margarita is a thing to behold.  

I'll be back soon with another episode but until then, keep taking the middle seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Ruth Bell Olsson

On episode 4 of Taking the Middle Seat, I talk to Ruth Bell Olsson, a teacher, writer, activist and all around beautiful soul. She's shares about her work with movements and communities that are on the front line of the salient issues of our day.

List on iTunes.

I would love for you to learn more about the Grand Rapids Red Project and One Million Thumbprints.

Ruth and I share a love of big earrings.  My favorites can be purchased at Noonday Collection

Kombucha on tap!!??!! Awesome.  If you're a GR local, find it at the Early Bird.  Another one of my favorite local cafe's is Rising Grinds.  Check out their menu and mission!  Love it!

And a couple of books we mentioned.  The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas and Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.  Or pick them up at an awesome local bookstore like Books and Mortar.  They'll order any book you want! 

Learn more about the Mystic Soul Conference and the rest of the organization here.      

Image is courtesy of One Million Thumbprints' website.

I'll be back soon with another episode but until then, keep taking the middle seat.

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