Taking the Middle Seat next to Lisa Anderson with Grace's Table

On Episode 31, I’m talking to Lisa Anderson, the founder of Grace’s Table (Facebook, Instagram), an organization that serves young mothers ages 13-24 in the areas of spiritual exploration, parenting, adolescence, career and education. Lisa founded the organization through a desire to serve young moms; an experience that is near to her heart because she experienced motherhood for the first time at age 17. Lisa is an incredible example of service, perseverance, and unconditional love.

Listen closely for the story of how Lisa found Grace’s table at a garage sale held by a woman named Grace. How can we be a Grace to someone in our lives?

Lisa has always dreamed BIG for Grace's Table and the dream she’s working on right this second is A Space for Grace. Grace’s Table needs to the WHOLE community to rally around this. You can learn all about this campaign to secure a gorgeous house surrounded by beautiful greenspace that will provide an environment that can really care for every aspect of young mothers and their children. I invite you to join me in donating financially to this cause. We ALL benefit from young women being made to feel whole and wanted.

Lisa talks about Chelsea’s story and you can see that here. I LOVE lovety LOVE the idea that Grace’s Table is all about paying it forward.

If you’re looking for a way to connect to your neighborhood, check out The Turquoise Table. It could be one way to get started. Need a recipe to feed a crowd that will make you feel like a connection rockstar? Check this out.

Lisa mentioned some favorite things: Diet Coke, charcuterie boards (Squibb is my fave place for a cheese board), and lazy rivers. She also mentioned loving her time in therapy each week. Yassss! I love that. #shoutouttotherapy

Remember to give a little or a lot to A Space for Grace! What a great way to make an impact and support women, community, and beauty for all. Until next time, remember to take the middle seat. I know you’ll find magic and meaning there.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Dustin Cornett at the Chocolat Inn and Cafe

On Episode 30, I talk to Dustin Cornett. He and his wife Mai own the Chocolat Inn and Cafe (Facebook and Instagram) in Beattyville, KY a small town in Eastern Kentucky (census stats). My family and I visited our extended family in Booneville, KY this past summer and decided to stay at Dustin and Mai’s inn (in the East and West Berlin rooms). I talk honestly in our interview about my assumptions and stereotypes before I went there. And Dustin talks about how he didn’t feel like he fit into the area even when he was growing up there. Dustin and Mai have been around the world and he talks about what brought them back to Beattyville. One of my favorite parts of Beattyville is the Woolly Worm Festival. I love a kooky festival!

Dustin talks about some of the natural gems around the Inn like the Red River Gorge and Daniel Boone National Forest with the Natural Bridge. If you’re into rock climbing or hiking, you absolutely need to visit! There is a really yummy restaurant there called Red River Rockhouse. The fries were legit. He also talks about being in Palau and how that experience made him view his home differently. He also mentions his wife’s home town of Osaka.

Our conversation really highlighted for me how we have become such a divided country. Whether those divides are geographical, technological, racial, political, or ideological they are divides we must work on. And I would argue, this can really only be done by listening, remembering that everything is nuanced, every person’s experience matters, and by taking the middle seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Monica Stegeman

On Episode 29, I’m talking to Monica Stegeman, an artist at Little Shrines (Facebook and Instagram). Monica calls her art “found object assemblage.” You can see a piece we talk about here. She talks about how she’s always been an artist, even in childhood. From coloring with crayons, to collecting beautiful treasures in her closet, to finding her confidence. From creating one-of-a-kind valentines, to helping people heal through her found object art. You’ll hear how Monica has gone on a journey with her art and how’s she’s now ready to invite you to do the same.

Monica says, “Today my shrines are out of my closet and lit from within. They are kindled with my longing to give credence to feelings and needs. They’re a quest for order and meaning.”

Monica has created a space in her home to host workshops. You guys. The energy in that space is so peaceful and full of possibility. She has bins and boxes and buckets of found objects. It is like a playground for processing and healing. Follow her to sign up for her workshops.

Her favorite things include Embody GR, a veggie smoothie that includes celery, cucumber, green apple, lemon, ginger and kale (YUM!), and the Cascade Peace Park (this is a repeat guest favorite so I need to go there!).

People and movements where we can pay privilege forward (these are my favorites but there are many many many more. Find what resonates with you, challenges you, activates you and pay for it):

Lesle’ Honore’ - author of Fist & Fire

We Are Lit- multicultural bookshop

Bellamy Shoffner - writer and founder of Hold the Line Magazine

Leesa Renee Hall - author, facilitator, social historian, and creative word artist. Join her Patreon group here.

So, if Monica’s work and story resonates with you, sign up for her workshops, commission a piece of work from her, connect with her art. I loved taking the middle seat next to her. There was absolutely magic and healing there. I’ll be back soon with another episode of Taking the Middle Seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Jennifer DiGennaro

On Episode 28, I’m talking to Jennifer DiGennaro with Nourished Energy (Facebook and Instagram). As there is so much diet culture swirling around us especially this time of year, Jen feels like the perfect oasis. She speaks to how connection, relationships and healing are so needed; not necessarily the next diet or new way of eating. One of my favorite things she said was, “Let’s get out of the edges.”

She is a holistic licensed psychotherapist and couples counselor. She works with people, “Strengthening relationships to self, body & each other.” Her areas of focus include chronic dieting, chronic stress and binge eating disorder. She is a certified intuitive eating counselor and certified body trust provider and works in modalities such as EMDR and Reiki. Jen works from a Health at Every Size perspective. Her website has so much great information on all of her work so head there to learn all the things. You can find even more information about Body Trust at BeNourished.org. I love how she talks about Body Trust as l i b e r a t i o n. Jennifer mentions THE BOOK on intuitive eating. Here it is.

Jennifer talks about her Holistic Nourishment Assessment and it’s FREE. Grab it at her website!

Jennifer talks about lots of favorites: Renfrew Center eating disorder conference, this TED talk, yoga at Lotus Jo’s, Tara Brach’s talks and her books, and epsom salt baths and Cascade Peace Park.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Tara Jones

On Episode 27, I’m talking to Tara Jones, owner of Your Pretty Pennies (Tara on Facebook and Instagram). She is a financial success coach, entrepreneur, and single mom. You will hear her tell her powerful story of “pressing the reset button.” Honestly, I’ve never identified with a financial planner or financial coach of any kind. Taking the middle seat next to super organized, planner, dollars and cents types has me quaking in my boots! Tara is on a whole different level. She reaches out to everyone’s soul and speaks a language that makes sense for everyone to beautify their lives in their own unique way.

Tara has so many services you’ll want to check out. She has published the Ultimate Financial Planner, a customizable 12 month planner. She coaches at the Financial Reset Online Academy, a comprehensive online curriculum to “Demolish Debt. Master Your Money. Create Financial Freedom.” She also provides 1-on-1 coaching if you are getting serious about manifesting the financial life you want. Tara is a sought after speaker including my personal favorite, Young Money: 5 Things to do with a Paycheck, a workshop for teens. You guys! Can you imagine if you had that workshop as a teenager!??!! How awesome!

She’s also hosting an event coming up really SOON, January 5! Its called The Ultimate Financial Vision Board Workshop. I’m going to be there and I want you to be there too! I am absolutely certain Tara will help you start your 2019 with a clear vision and plan. I have never made a vision board (or a budget… shhh) so I am totally geeked to be treating myself to this gift. Sign up at the link above!

Tara’s favorite things include her black boots from H&M. These are some cute ones I found. In a recent video Tara also rocks a faux leather skirt and that looks a lot like this and it is one of my favorite things. I’m telling you right now. She also loves the Cranberry Woods candle from Bath & Body Works. She also loves homemaking including ironing and loading the dishwasher. And she’s a huge advocate for therapy for everyone!

I know that Tara is going to be the voice in your head calling you higher in 2019. She is incredible. So dance and sashay into 2019 with this episode playing and remember to take the middle seat! I know you’ll find your very own magic and purpose right there waiting for you.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Nichole Beiner

On Episode 26 I’m talking to Nichole Beiner, an attorney, diversity consultant and community builder. She has a gorgeous presence online at Nichole Gabrielle (Instagram, Facebook) and at Melanin and Moxie (Web, Instagram, Facebook ) which is a space specifically for women of color.

Nichole is navigating living with a chronic neurological disorder and we talk a lot about how having an “invisible” illness can be so challenging. I know many listeners will resonate with her story of strength and struggle. She talks honestly about how privilege, community, vulnerability, and connection impact her journey.

I mention another woman I follow that has informed the way I see my own privilege, Rachel Cargle. Other women I love learning from in the online space are Vilissa Thompson, Leesa Renee Hall, and Layla Saad.

Nichole’s favorite things include Reina Pomeroy (lots of guests have raved to me about Reina’s programs!), movies, baking, The Great British Baking Show, tea, cozy blankets, books (memoirs!) and her husband.

She has a great gift guide up right now so check that out! Remember to check out our Taking the Middle Seat Gift Guide too.

I am 100% certain Nichole is going to change the world. She speaks truth to power. She shines light where it is needed. She is incredible and I want you all to follow her right this minute.

I’ll be back soon with another episode but until then, take the middle seat! I promise you’ll find some holiday magic there.

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This Seat's Taken: Gift Guide with Gretchen

My sister, Gretchen, and I are giving you a gift guide like no other. And by that I mean, it is not super organized, it doesn’t touch on every category, and the list is mostly things that Gretchen and I want to receive. Having said that, I think there are some awesome things on this list! Women-owned! Minority-owned! Locally-owned! Ethical businesses!

**Real quick.. a few other gift guides I love… Jen Hatmaker 2018, Jen Hatmaker 2017, Big Boo Cast

We are starting off with a bang… I have found THE BEST lipstick. The Lip Bar! My fave is the liquid matte style. But if you’re a traditional lipstick gal or a gloss gal, The Lip Bar has you covered. My fave safe color is Unimpressed. My fave take-a-risk color is Crown-Me. These are not animal tested and vegan. And The Lip Bar is a Black-owned business, woman-owned business based in Detroit. Love it!

Gretchen is forever devoted to drugstore cosmetics. (Andrea sighs) She loves Morphe lipstick. Check out the cute packaging. We both love cute packaging. I’ve been trying to get her to try BeautyCounter. I love this company and for a really cool gift, I love giving the eyeshadow palettes especially if you’re giving to a young person just starting to navigate makeup. If you’re wanting to really pamper someone on your list, give them the Cleansing Balm. Swoon.

I know there is an artisanal soap around every corner but I’m telling you, Maggie Ann Soap Co. is in a league of their own. This is a woman-owned business local to Grand Rapids. My favorite products are the Mermaid Lagoon soap, Chill Pill bath bombs, and Dog Shampoo bar. These are perfection for gift giving and stocking stuffers. You can also pick them up at the Bridge Street Market.

Gretchen loves Boll and Branch bedding. I know you have ratty ol’ sheets you’ve been meaning to switch out so if you’re gifting someone else or yourself, these sheets look divine.

My next recommendation is for all things Shannon Cohen. She is an incredible leader and motivator and has a whole line of cards, journals, and prints that will make any gift recipient feel seen and heard. I think they’re perfect for your co-workers, friends, 20-somethings. Really anyone. I love them so much!

Gretchen’s next recommendation is for a big splurge super special gift. It is a bag from B. May bags. These are gorgeous leather bags. Here’s Gretchen’s fave (boring) and my fave (exciting).

Up next is We Are Lit. I cannot get enough books and locally owned, woman-owned independent bookstore books are the very best. We Are Lit is a curated collection of multicultural books but Kendra, the owner, can order any book she doesn’t already have in her collection. Just message her! The books will come wrapped in brown paper and love. She also has an audio book service called Libro.fm. So your traditional and audio book lovers are both covered.

We both love businesses that give back and Gretchen is recommending a restaurant in Traverse City that does just that. The Good Bowl. Lots of you travel to the Traverse City area or know someone there so check them out or send your up north loved one a gift card.

Two more local GR businesses that I love are Liv Styled and Polished Nail Bar and Spa. Liv is a closet magician and personal stylist. She does all things style related and is the nicest human. You could give absolutely anyone the gift of Liv’s services and you’ll be a gift-giving hit. Polished is the coolest nail place and would be the perfect place to get your fave gal a gift card. Branch out and support a local business!

The next recommendation is still mine because I’m the host and I can just keep going… Shanalee Hampton makes the coolest stitched art for your activist, empowered, bad ass friend. Her hand-stitched art says the things we want to say! This one is one of my favorites.

And I’m on a roll… My next recommendation is Chaotic & Collected. This woman-owned shop makes handmade garlands and party decor. She has all of the usual things (birthday, holiday, etc.) and so many more fun things that you never knew you needed. Check out her site and I know you’ll find something you need.

We’re headed back to a fashion pick… Everlane. Gretchen loves their cashmere crew sweater and their high wasted skinny jeans, and their black suede kitten heels. Everything at Everlane is made with ethical business practices and fair wages. You can see the actual factories that make the items right on their site. Gretchen mentions another fave cashmere sweater from Uniqlo.

I’m coming back with a book recommendation that you could gift to a kiddo or grown up alike. It is called Modern Herstory. It is jam packed with 70 world changing women, girls and non-binary people who have shaped history. I have LOVED sharing this book with my kids because I can introduce them to world-changers and educate myself on these amazing people. It is a gorgeous book with beautiful illustrations and would be at home on a bedside table or coffee table.

And the last gift is the Because of Them We Can Box. This box launches in the next few days so follow the link to get signed up for updates on when it is available. Every month, your kiddo can get a box in the mail (they love mail!) all about Black History and Excellence. Love this!

I also talk about donating to causes in honor of someone on your list. I would love this as a giftee! Two of my favorite organizations are Together Rising and Donors Choose.

So there you have it. I could make gift recommendations for days! Let gift giving be a source of connection this year. Don’t make it a drag or just get something because you think you have to. Do it up right with meaningful gifts and if actual gifts aren’t in the budget, just take the middle seat. Make someone feel seen and heard. I promise you’ll both feel the gift and the magic in the middle seat.

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Taking the Middle Seat next to Topsie VandenBosch

On Episode 24, I’m talking to Topsie VandenBosch, a business mindset coach for female entrepreneurs. (Topsie on Facebook and Instagram) She is a private practice therapist and entrepreneur. And she is a firecracker and motivator. I could not love her more! I love how she speaks truth and encouragement to get us out of our stuck spaces.

Topsie’s tips for maintaining a great mindset heading into the holiday season:

  1. Remember that you will be ok no matter the season. Keep a mindset centered on abundance and not fear.

  2. Recognize that it is ok to slow down. You don’t have to keep up with the hustle and bustle that is around you. You don’t have to!

  3. Remember it is ok to NOT buy all of the things. Stay within your means.

Topsie’s tips for maintaining boundaries at the holiday season:

  1. Don’t spend time with people who drain you (or limit your time) even if they’re family.

  2. Recognize that every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. Don’t say yes out of obligation.

Topsie mentions Side Hustle Pro podcast. If you have a little baby side hustle and want some encouragement, it just might be for you. I’ve also found a lot of encouragement through GR Boss Babes and Grand Rapids Women Who, local GR groups of rad women. Don’t hate on social media. It can be a source of connection if you do it right.

If you need more Topsie-on-a-podcast-fun, be sure to catch her on Balanced Bites episode 374.

Topsie’s favorite things include an iced matcha green tea latte with almond milk from Starbucks (I *heart* her specificity here), The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson, The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix (I’m going to take her word on this. Horror - EEEK!), My Favorite Murder podcast (we’re going to the live show together!!!!), Jenna Kutcher’s podcast, and Skinny Confidential podcast. Topsie also treats herself to cold-pressed juices because they’re so freaking delicious. She loves Bodhi Tree Juice Co. and Malamiah Juice Bar.

Go take that middle seat all holiday season long!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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