Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Emily Braden.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, powerhouse singer Emily Braden, the big, bad beauty from Boise. Winner of New York City’s prestigious “Best of the Best” Jazzmobile Vocal Competition, Braden’s signature sound is an effortless blend of jazz and soul. Her debut album Soul Walk is composed of high-energy originals and “flipped-out” jazz standards. Braden has performed at notable NYC venues such as the Blue Note Jazz Club (Late Night Groove Series), Birdland Jazz Club, le poisson rouge, BAMCafe and as well as on international festival circuits. East coast residencies include Richard Bona’s Club Bonafide and Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, the original home of bebop.  Braden has traveled to Burkina Faso, West Africa as part of the US Embassy’s Arts Envoy program.  She recently made her debut as a featured vocalist with Post Modern Jukebox. Her vocal versatility has earned her a place as a front woman with The Sketchy Orkestra, the Matt Parker Trio and Oliver Swain’s Big Machine. Her own group Double Bass, Double Voice released their debut album in the US and Japan in February 2017. See Braden live and she’ll make you a believer. This girl is smokin’, smokin’ hot.

What makes you a Girl Warrior? 

I’d say continually putting myself “out there” and actively designing my life qualifies me a Girl Warrior. My belief that all people (that would include all self-identified women and, hey now, that would have to include me!) are worthy of being seen, heard and loved motivates me to trust and follow my own vision. I want to live a big life. That, and my ability to see an opportunity for growth in everything, everywhere, all the time.

You have a big bold brilliant career. Was music always “it” for you?

I am first and foremost a music lover. I’ve been a singin’ fool ever since I can remember but I didn’t necessarily see it as my career path early on. I would sing along with, imitate and study the greats for the sheer joy of it. It was out of that practice that I developed a voice. It wasn’t until high school when I went for a solo and felt a beautiful force and energy come through me – it was powerful. In that moment I realized that I not only had a voice but also had something to say.

From Boise to Manhattan … how’d that come about? 

Boise, ID to Gresham, OR to Victoria, BC to Harlem USA.  I’ve recently begun to embrace my unconventional beginnings as a jazz singer. I used to wish my story made more sense – that I had grown up in a place where jazz, soul and gospel flowed like water, or that my hometown had a little more musical “clout.”  The truth is that my grandmother introduced me to some incredible music early on and I fell in love with it. I grabbed a hold, so to speak, and have since followed music wherever it has led me.  I had great mentors in both Oregon and British Columbia. I packed two suitcases and moved to New York City in 2009 because I knew I needed to be immersed in the music I loved in order to begin to reach the level of artistry to which I still aspire.

You’ve sung in some amazing places in the world. If you could go back to one of those places to do it all again, where would it be? Why? 



My wanderlust runs deep. I’m crossing my fingers that my dream of having a great career effortlessly marries my desire to see the world. So far, so good. I’m currently in Bangkok for a month of music at a jazz club here and I already want to come back! I came over two weeks early to travel on my own in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. There are so many places I have yet to see that I’m not sure I’d prioritize a trip back to anywhere over seeing someplace new. I loved Burkina Faso in West Africa, though I see myself visiting its musical neighbors, Mali and Ivory Coast, before returning. I also adored Cuba. I am bilingual and sing in Spanish as well so South America is also at the top of my list.

What has been your biggest challenge? 

It’s cliché but I have to constantly fight against my own self-doubt and work to expand my understanding of what self-love really looks like. There is an undercurrent of negative self-beliefs that I am forever examining and pushing back against – the belief that I am not good enough, talented enough, that I am an imposter or somehow unworthy of the incredible things that I have been able to experience. What a buzz kill, really. There are also the very real challenges of being a woman in the music industry and a fat one at that. I rely on friends and fellow women artists for support and have also found strength in the body-positive, fat-positive and queer communities.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down? 

Moving to NYC within my twenties with no money and building a music career from the ground up!  Being fat has shown me walls and barriers invisible to many. It could be seen as an obstacle but I choose to embrace my embodiment. It is one small part of who I am. If my size and shape hinders me from getting an opportunity, that opportunity was superficial and wasn’t for me – just on principle.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

Can I just hang out with her and shower her with buckets and buckets of validation? I would tell her that there is space in this world for her and for everything that she has to say and just – to go for it.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?  

I would do my best to communicate the idea that they are already in possession of everything they need to find joy and live the life of their dreams. That can be a tough one though – how much time do we have together?

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why? 

I have role models and certainly look up to the vocal goddesses that have inspired the masses but I’m not so big on the idea of the “hero/ (s)hero.” I am in awe and fall into a kind of love with most people I meet.

What’s next? 

I am working on a new album and it’s been a long time coming. Hopefully a month alone with a piano in a hotel room in Bangkok will result in the completion of some of these song ideas that have been floating around.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

I have no idea and I feel great about that! One of most important things I’ve learned as an artist is to do the work and detach from the outcome. I say, “yes” to things even if (or especially if) they scare me.  I show up for opportunities and follow through. I create music.  What comes from that is not really for me to say.  At the same time, I am an avid daydreamer and carry within me an elaborate vision of what I want things to look like and how I want it to “feel.”  I do my best to nurture that and give it my focus. In five years, I’d like to be making music with a killing band in beautiful clubs, theaters and music festivals around the room.  And if I let myself be completely honest, I’d like to be playing Madison Square Garden.

 If a song were written about your life, what would it be called?

Maybe “Songbody.”

You can learn more about Emily @ www.emilybraden.com

Preview Soul Walk on iTunes @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/soul-walk/id336528400

Follow Emily on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/emilybraden/ and Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/songbody/

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Mel Baird.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, mobile makeup artist Melanie Baird, a woman of character and the quintessential example of what true beauty is. For over two decades, Mel has brought her unique style to over 1000 weddings; to popular television shows, including Canadian Idol, Canada’s Next Great Chef, and Kool Countdown; the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Closing Ceremonies; countless magazine features, editorial and print ads, music videos, CD covers, movies and commercials; plus, a finalist on Canada’s Next Top Model; BITE Beauty Founder Susanne Langmuir’s Movember Sephora Video; and Lieutenant Governor Judy Guichon’s official photo.  

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

As a female business owner, it’s my ability to connect with women. I love getting to the depths of our Souls with talking and healing. Spreading my light and helping make the world a better place however I can.

We love your Feel Good Campaign. How did that come about?

I have been doing makeup on women for years and helping them feel better. Many clients have gone through cancer treatments and I would teach them how to do makeup to look and feel better. It became my passion. As I did more and more I wanted to make this a staple. I get the most joy helping people, and this merged my two passions. So myself, and Danielle Bennett King, do hair and makeup every month for a woman going through treatment or hard times.

What has been your biggest challenge – personally or professionally? 

Professionally I would say my self-doubt/anxiety! If I don’t know how to do something well I tend to not feel comfortable trying. I can be hard on myself because my personal standards are very high.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I would say my anxiety and fears; they can hold you back. I loved makeup and taught myself how to be a makeup artist the old fashioned way – through books!

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

This question makes my eyes tear up. I have SO much I would of loved to say! But mainly to not worry and all of your hopes and dreams do come true. Keep being you and have an open heart and beautiful things will happen.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Be true to who you are. Listen to your Soul. Feed your Soul. Work on inner growth because that is the key to happiness and abundance. Everything in your life will get better when you love yourself. You will be a beam of light! I try to teach this to my 18- year old daughter, especially by leading by example.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

I am constantly inspired by strong women who help others. Women are nurturers and are powerful. We teach love. Also, any woman who saves animals or run rescue organizations are my heroes too.

What’s next?  

To continue doing what I love and makes me happy. To keep growing as a person. Doing makeup. Laugh, travel, enjoy life, animals and my family.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 That’s always a funny one for me. For my career I feel I am exactly where I want to be. So then I think of other areas. I am very happy in my marriage and being a mother. So maybe travel more, do more yoga, work a bit less and spend more time with my father who recently moved here.

What message would put on your t-shirt?

There are two I love:

  • “Character is built through adversity” – Unknown
  • “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s Soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France

If you have someone you would like to nominate for Mel’s “Feel Good Campaign” please connect with her. In her words, “We would love to beautify and empower them.”

Connect with Mel on Instagram @mel_baird_makeup; through her Facebook page Melanie Baird Makeup Artist or her website http://www.melaniebaird.ca

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Karen Cooper.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the wise and wonderful Karen Cooper, entrepreneur, artist, yoga teacher and spiritual guide. A courageous risk-taker, Karen first hit the local scene with her business On Canvas Art Gallery, which was the perfect setting for her Stretch Yoga Studio. It was here that she fostered a loyal, and ever-growing, following of wisdom seekers and creative devotees.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

I have learned that if I fall I can and will get up and I do.  I have found that I can choose, that I am strong, that I will find a way to get up no matter what happens, I have learned to trust myself.  I can be flexible; I will make the best of whatever is. I know that there is help and support all around me.

You worked in the fast-paced competitive business world for years. How did you get from that to yoga teacher, spiritual guide and fine artist?

My sister died of breast cancer, she was 40, and I was 39.  That was when I chose to live life on my terms, for me, for those I love.  As a result of that choice, I found the right books (which I think really saved my life), I quit smoking (that’s when I found out that I had strength), I spent a year in India (that changed my view of the world and, opened my mind), then I found yoga and spiritual practice (and that opened my heart my mind my body my spirit) and I have never looked back.  It’s been a process, a journey, an amazing ride. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes or get scared, it just means that I find a new way to move. I will again take one step then one more and one more.

What has been your biggest challenge so far – personally or professionally?

I believe that my biggest challenge in life has been finding my self-worth, learning to believe in myself, to trust myself and finally to love myself unconditionally.  It’s taken a long time with lots of experiences and just as many mistakes, the key is learning from them.

In my younger years I never forgave myself for any mistake that I ever made and I spent my energy and time trying desperately to never make another.  I was so hard on myself.  I remember thinking that if I quit or lost my job as a District Sales Manager that no one would ever hire me again, they would surely find out that I was a fake.

What obstacles have you overcome and misconceptions have you overthrown?

I have learned to breathe, to be still, and to listen to the whispers of my heart.  This has been a huge undertaking.  My Father (God bless him) believed that a knight in shining armor would come by, one for each one of his daughters, and care for them for life, that we need not worry.  My Mother (God bless her) taught us girls how to be independent so we could rely on ourselves. As a result I had one foot in each thought process. Not to mention that I have lots of energy, and sitting still to listen long enough to hear the stirring of my own heart to find my own answers, to find my own truth, to see what is a misconception and let it go.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

Please sweetheart, be kind to yourself, don’t be so hard on yourself, you are worthy, you are lovable, you are enough.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Dear Girl Warriors, please above all else be kind to yourself, love yourself for all that you are with loving kindness and compassion, Live well, Love well, Be well. Find your gifts and give them, you do have gifts; remember this, with love.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

My friend Karin, has survived 2 rounds of brutal cancer which has left her disabled and yet she is thriving with joy and gratitude.

Boo King, I have watched you over the years, get up from the fall, you do what needs to be done, you look after your loved ones and still manage to inspire us by living your passion.  You do the work!

My sister Sandi and my girlfriends whose love and support never fail me, who make me want to be my best self, to stand tall in this life.

My friend and yoga student Elizabeth Wellburn who has stood by and supported me all these years and has done the same for so many, who gets up from all the falls and keeps going and lives her passions and supports her community living what she believes in.

What’s next?

In November I am going to Spain for 3 weeks with my sister and brother-in-law, a trip of a lifetime.  When I get back I am planning my next big risk and challenge and adventure. I have no idea what that is at this moment but I trust it will come to me and I look forward to it.  Food and shelter for all is a big deal for me, I’d like to do some work in that area.  I believe there is a reason for everything and what we are doing in our lives right now is helping us to learn and prepare for whatever comes next.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I hope to still be alive, living my passion, walking my talk more deeply, continuing to learn and grow, to be curious and look up.

What’s your personal mantra?

My mantra, to walk more softly on this planet, to learn and grow all the days of my life, to be a light, to share my gifts.  My favorite quote, by John O’Donohue sums it all up, “May you experience each day as a gift woven around the heart of wonder.”

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Gina Hole.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, a true Renaissance woman, Gina Hole. With more than 30 years of experience in the photography, film, video and commercials industries, Gina is the founder and Producer of THEY Produce in Vancouver Canada.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

I’m a female entrepreneur, ex artist, business owner, agent, producer, director, volunteer, political voice, advocate and mother of four productive and independent teen & adult children.

Tell us a bit about THEY. How did that come about? Why THEY?

I began my career in 1981 as a professional makeup artist in fashion, film and celebrity. Before there were makeup schools we learned on the job and from magazines, but as well I learned from my Transvestite and Transgender friends, so really I learned from the best! Back then I would see and hear the news about hate crimes, homophobia and racism and it always dumbfounded me as, within our ‘fashion bubble’– a gay black man was considered iconic, like Andre Leon Talley, whom we were massive fans of and had huge respect for — and so I just could not comprehend that someone like Leon could walk down a street at night, even in ‘out’ Vancouver, and get beat up or even killed.

Skip to 2003 when I decided to open an agency representing professional artist, I began branding the agency I needed a good name. I had always found it interesting (and a bit irritating) that when I used to be working as a makeup artist on set, and the Creatives, directors or AD’s were talking about us the makeup/hair/wardrobe/etc. teams, and we would always be referred to as ‘They’, as in, “after They do the touch ups we’ll roll camera”…and I’d look around and think, “who is THEY? It’s only me, Gina here and I’m standing right here!”… This happened almost daily on jobs for over 2 decades, so it popped into my head instantly. Then I looked up the term in the dictionary and I was blown away to read that it was defined as, “an androgynous term for ‘he’ or ‘she’ “, as in “when THEY did my makeup…”. This was perfect, as it was an homage to my Trans friends in the 80’s that taught me to be a fearless artist (and attach lashes that do NOT fall off!) as well as it was my own personal inside joke and nod to my past career experiences. I am very proud of the gender-neutral name.

What has been your biggest challenge running your own company?

My biggest challenge at the very start was tackling an industry in Vancouver that had never had professional agency representation before for artists, models yes, but artists no, so in a way I pioneered representation of this nature, but it did not come without it stresses at the start! I am honored that all these pro’s in the city, all of the very best in Western Canada, put their portfolios in my hands and said, “okay Gina, rep me!” But I’m nervous as this has never been done and some photographers told me they’d “NEVER book me again if I join!” So these Pro’s that had been handling their own careers for 10+ years all of a sudden put their trust in me. When I think about it now, 14 years later, I am still blown away that they put their trust in me and I am forever thankful for that. To this day we still represent over half of these same artists that have been with us from day 1, or very shortly thereafter.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I feel as a strong, independent woman, I face obstacles everyday in business, even today in 2017. I see a few men still not being comfortable with a woman leader, I have sat in meetings in banks and with lawyers where they turn to my husband and start talking directly to him…this always makes me chuckle, as my husband stops that person and says, “you need to be talking to her”, and then I do all of the negotiating.

There are walls every day and obstacles, but the secret is to know who YOU are, keep your head held high and keep on going, or, my other favorite term, grow a set of women balls! That means be tough and believe in what you are doing’ even if no one else does, follow your heart.

Tell us about your passion project?

My passion project is my documentary I am producing and directing. I am following a young Transgender boy through his journey from transitioning from girl to boy. I am a year and a half into it, following him before he started his testosterone shots. I will be mostly likely another year and a half before I’m done and my hopes are the outcome is the documentary will help other trans or questioning kids.

What would you tell your younger Girl Warrior?

Oh soooo much! I suffered from so much anxiety as a child, was always fearful of the unknown and worried about being bullied because of my last name (“Hole”…can you imagine?), but somewhere deep down I always managed to find my power, I just always moved forward no matter how utterly terrified I was…and this theory has carried me through surviving a 35 year career in the business — even in Hollywood for 5 years — plus diving head first into directing a documentary. I NEVER set out to say, “I’m a director” but rather saw an opportunity that came to me and I didn’t say “no”, in fact, the basis to everything I do is never say ‘no’ (within reason and not illegal!), as you may loose out on something amazing. I have also learned that everything is “do-able”, everything!

What would you say to the next generation of Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

I see anxiety rampant in teens and youth today, perhaps it is as simple as being over anxious to ‘instantly reply’ to every sort of social media ping and text that comes in. I’m not sure about that as I’m not an expert, but what I do try to say to my teen daughters and sons in their 20s is, ‘you do not have to answer immediately!”… and that advice is coming from someone whose whole career as an agent is to answer everything immediately so we don’t loose booking and money!

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

Gloria Steinem (who wrote a book about her own anxiety all the while being the face and leader of Feminism in the 70s)

Barbara Streisand (Another anxious woman who ignored that and pushed through to become an Academy Award winning actor, director, producer and of course, over coming her stage fright to be one of the best singers & performers in the world…we also have the same birthday!)

My Trans and LGBTQ friends and mentors from the 80s, the ones that taught me to be a perfectionist, and who we also lost to Aides, I am forever grateful.

What’s next?

Raising funds to finish my documentary so we can shoot in New York for the ending plus get my trans subjects into the studio to record their amazing music that we will use for the sound track.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Still welcoming projects that come in via email, text or land in my lap…and my answer to all of them is “yes, and how can we do this the very best it can be done!”

Also I’m not going to lie, I also see myself, and my husband, traveling more together and with our family, and having a great gin and tonic in as many different destinations that have gin!

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Finding My Voice.

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I found my voice. For many years I’ve suffered from writer’s laryngitis. My writer’s voice sounded sort of like me. But it wasn’t 100% authentic. Not really me. Close but no cigars.

When I first started writing I mimicked other writers. This wasn’t a conscious act on my part. I’ve always read a lot so when I started writing my own stuff I subconsciously channeled the authors that I liked to read. I learned to write novels by reading novels. I read for pleasure but part of me was always studying the technique, style and process the author used to tell their story. This was helpful. The hard part was erasing their voice from my head so mine could take over and tell my own stories.

The other hard part was shutting down my inner critic. The ugliest voice of all. The judge. Jury. And executioner of all things creative. The one who paralyzes. Punishes boldness. And pushes sweet dreams downward. Getting rid of that monster was essential.

It’s taken years to find my true voice. The one I’m using right now as I write this blog.

My authentic voice began to emerge in the writing of my first novel Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies. Regrettable title. But for now I’m stuck with it. The challenge with writing a novel and creating fictional characters is creating authentic real voices for them. There’s your voice, which is the over-arching narrative. And there are the voices of the people you create. This was a fascinating journey of discovery. But only the beginning.

My real voice took a foothold in 2011 when I started this blog. Post by post. Bit by bit my real voice has surfaced. Manifested. Revealed itself. And it has been a joy.

For years I’ve felt like I was speaking through a blanket. Or many blankets on some days. Let the authentic honest voice out is frightening, intimidating, awkward, and at times disturbing. But it’s also liberating, empowering, profound, and the best thing that could ever happen to a writer. Or anyone.

We all have a voice. I learned that valuable lesson last fall.

I love to sing as much as I love to write. But I’ve always been self-conscious of my singing voice. So I reserved all singing to this room, the shower, along the quiet country road that I walk at lunch and church. Then there was that one cringe-worthy performance at our wedding where I sang the love song I wrote for E. Enough said.

That moment, recorded forever on our guests’ iPhones and posted to YouTube, has haunted me. I blush at the thought.  But out of that experience came the next evolution in finding my voice. I spent four months exploring the physical voice with a wonderful teacher, who not only encouraged me to sing, but to do it fearlessly. Right from the gut.

You should too.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: High Anxiety and Panic Attacks.

Boo after her Sunday night bath

See the little girl in the foreground of this photograph? Looks like she’s fresh out of her Sunday-night bath with her wet hair, a white cotton towel draped over her tiny shoulders like Superman’s cape. In the background is her older brother, sitting at the kitchen table, and fully engaged in a game of cards with one of his friends. They don’t notice her or that Ma is taking their photograph. Looks like she’s warming herself by the ancient oil heater in the living room at 204. But she is not.

This little girl isn’t cold.

She is in a full-blown panic attack. Racked with anxiety. Tormented by a faceless nameless terrifying Boogeyman that pops up unexpectedly out-of-nowhere. Boo. What’s the “tell” in this photograph? Look closely and you’ll see her hand over her tummy. Look closely and you will see the fear in her dark eyes. Look closely and you will see the clenching of her distraught jaw.

In this photograph I’m nine or ten years old and just beginning a life-long battle with anxiety and panic attacks. My hand is over my tummy because my guts are churning and I feel like throwing up. I’m not cold like the photograph suggests. My teeth aren’t chattering because of the temperature in the room. I don’t shiver because I’ve caught a chill. I shiver and shake uncontrollably because my body, mind and emotions are under assault. And I don’t know why. I don’t understand any of it. I’m constantly overwhelmed with a gnawing feeling of dread, afraid of everything and nothing. My mind is on high alert, relentlessly watching and waiting for “it” to come back. I just want “it” to stop.

Eventually the immediate panic ceases. It always does. But the low-grade anxiety lingers.

It took years to fully understand this. When I was the little girl in this photograph I just suffered through it. Physical exhaustion eventually played a merciful hand. When I was a teenager I wanted to be carefree and happy like everyone else, and I continued to suffer through each attack, praying it would never happen again. Pleading with God to make it stop and asking, “why me?”

I confided in Ma of course. She understood what I was going through because over the years she too had suffered from “bad nerves.” Apparently these were the kind of nerves that required punishing. So Ma did so by dispensing Carter’s Little Liver Pills. They were the cure-all for everything back in the day. Ma found them helpful but they did nothing for me. As I got older, I started hiding the attacks from Ma because it was only making matters worse, for the both of us.

By the time my son was born, and I was in university, I had had enough. I had to figure this out, if not for my sake, then for his.

I became a student of my own physiology. I read and studied everything I could get my hands on about the nervous system, cognitive behavior, anxiety and panic disorders, psychology and spirituality, environmental factors, nutrition and physical fitness. Through this journey, I discovered that it was actually an amalgam of factors that were contributing to these panic attacks and prevailing anxiety. Bit by bit, and slowly over time, I unearthed a host of possible causes and triggers – everything from the very physical nature of the beast to the gut-wrenching emotional fabric of my life story. What I ate and when I ate it, being the daughter of an alcoholic, family shame and feelings of inferiority, extreme shyness, sensitivity and introversion, lack of confidence in social situations, hyper-creativity and an over-active imagination, intelligence and obsession with achievement, the need to be perfect, to be a good girl, to not make waves. I was tailor-made for this disorder.

But I was also tailor-made to overcome it. In addition to all that stuff, I’m also tough as nails, strong-willed, gritty, determined and optimistic. And above all else, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I stopped asking “why me” long ago. Now I ask myself, “why not me?” I’ve looked for the silver lining, the blessing in this experience and found it.

I’ve taken a holistic approach and I do the things I need to do to stay well – emotionally, physically and spiritually – by eating food that fuels my body and spirit, practicing yoga, going for long walks, reading and writing, doing work that has meaning, helping others, and most importantly, spending time with people I love and cherish. If not for panic attacks and anxiety, I doubt that I would experience life to the full depth of emotion and richness that I do today. Silver lining.

When I was in university, and in one of my deepest darkest periods of anxiety, I read a beautiful little book called Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Australian physician Dr. Claire Weekes. This book quite literally saved my life. I read it and re-read it until it was practically in shreds. It was full of practical intelligent advice and down-to-earth wisdom that I could actually do something with. I learned to desensitize my nervous system, to overcome the bewilderment that accompanies panic attacks, to change my internal conversation in order to stop the fear, and the fear of the fear, and to ultimately call its bluff.

And my biggest take-away, and what became my mantra for many years, even to this day – “shaky jelly legs will still get you there!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Jo Dworschak.

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There’s no age limit to being a Girl Warrior. She doesn’t look a particular way. She comes in all ages, sizes, shapes and colors. She’s out there. And inside every girl who enters the world. She’s the face of hope at the bottom of Pandora’s Box.

She is not afraid of her fierce magical powers. It is here that we have come to celebrate. Honor. Appreciate. And applaud.

Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our first Feature Girl Warrior, the extraordinary and inspiring Jo Dworschak. Comedian, broadcaster and writer and best known for her hit game show Story Story Lie and co-hosting of the LGBT show Fruit Salad on Coop Radio.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

That’s a hard question. I feel like the wins I’ve had came from struggles and they tend to remain a struggle. I guess that’s part of being a warrior? I keep doing it. Even when trying is hard and I really want to just take a nap…well I take a nap but then I wake up and get shit done.

We love Story Story Lie. How did that come about?

I was on a train ride from Brighton to London, actually on the wrong train cause I wanted to get moving and thought it would be an adventure to get on a different train and see what happened. Luckily the train went to London, but the opposite side of London and it was so late at night it took me two hours on buses with drunks to get back to my room. Everything that happened that night was unbelievable. Truth is so much stranger then fiction, that’s how the show came to be. Two true stories and one lie, can you tell them apart? I know who the liar is and I still get confused! Also I wanted a show that gave the audience a voice, made people feel clever for being able to interrogate the performers. I’m so lucky everyone has loved it!

What has been your biggest challenge?

Biggest challenge has been asking. Asking for the venue to host the show. Asking performers to join as contestants. Asking media to cover the show and asking CBC Radio to add the show to its line up (I’m still waiting to hear back). Asking invites the potential to get what I want, but also to not get it. That waiting time is still hard for me. There are times I’m rejected, but people are usually quite nice about it.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I’m a single parent. I’m lucky to have a son that is supportive of my dreams. It is hard to leave at night and perform when I can’t bring him with me. Though I realize he’s a teenager now and fine being at home with snacks and WiFi. I’ve suffered for years on and off with clinical depression. Some days getting out of bed, and on a stage, is very hard. Some days I have no clue why I still do it. But finding that story or that joke that connects with the audience, that helps them forget about their own problems or think differently about the problems of others make it worth it.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior? 

You’re voice is important! Anyone who tells you that your voice isn’t important, know just how important your voice really is.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Living a life without failure isn’t a life I’d want to live. We need to ask for what we want. We get a lot of yeses! And often the no’s tend to be for the best.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

Frida Khalo, she was a cross-dressing bisexual who overcame a lot of pain and brought beauty into the world when she saw none. Also she had a lot of pets! That’s so cool!

What’s next?

This summer I’m flying my son and I to St. John’s Newfoundland. We are on a tight budget to buy a crappy car and drive back. The goal is to meet as many diverse families as possible and interview them for an audio doc project I’m calling Families Across Canada. We want to find the things we all have in common and the things we can learn from each other. I truly believe sharing each others stories breaks down walls and builds strong bridges.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

On stage, on air and writing! I want to be able to live as a Creative. I would love for Story Story Lie to be bigger! To be traveling with that show and bringing diverse voices to the stage. I’d love to work on CBC Radio! Entertaining the masses and making people laugh. And having a hit show on CBC Radio.

Follow Jo on Twitter and Instagram @storystorylie. If you’re in the Victoria area on April 1, be sure to catch Story Story Lie at The Mint Victoria and see if you can spot the liar!

Get tickets to the show here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/story-story-lie-victoria-edition-tickets-31672884450