Storytelling

Episode 7: Being Brave is Funny

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What do you get when you mix spunk, humor, and a great pixie hair cut? You get a comedian from Brooklyn with an insatiable hunger for life.

Chani Lisbon is one of eleven Jewish Orthodox children, and her affinity for comedy stemmed from an innate curiosity to poke and prod and ask “What would happen if?” What would happen if I wore lipstick on a Saturday? What would happen if I turned the light on when it’s supposed to be dark? What would happen if I did this? Or that?

What WOULD happen?

By following the answers, Chani’s story teaches that no matter how far away you may go, your roots may always lead you home again.

Listen in at ShapingSapiens.com

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/shapingsapiens
iTunes: http://apple.co/27kLANw
And YouTube shortly. xo

Photo credit: Madeline Vu

Episode 6: The Fire Still Burns

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They say when you have a dream, the whole universe will conspire to make that dream a reality. And at first, that dream can feel SO RIGHT, so seductive, so sure… as in: “YES, this is my calling. THIS is my passion. This is the direction I’m going to take and nobody can stop me!”

Especially when you’re a 20-something know-it-all die-hard rock-and-roller  🙂

But, inevitably, life has a way of throwing around obstacles, and the dreamer is forced to either hold on or grow up.

Diego Del Pozzo is our guest today, and his story teaches us that if a dream really is meant to be, then it won’t matter how much time has passed, because if that inner fire is still burning, we will surely find our way back home once again.

Listen in at ShapingSapiens.comSoundcloud, and iTunes. And shortly on YouTube. xo

Photo credit: Vecna – Metal Band

Episode 5: This is Not About Cancer

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How do you fight cancer? With vengeance? Tears? Love? Determination? Prayers? Blame?

My aunt chooses to fight it with fire.

What you’ll hear today is a conversation that takes place just a few hours after receiving her 6th chemotherapy treatment for her third breast cancer diagnosis. I wasn’t even sure if she’d be up for doing it. But after we got home from the treatment center, she went into her room and came back out, freshly dressed, make-up on, and a bright, colorful hair turban in place and said: “Let’s do it.”

My aunt is the epitome of what it means to be brave and proves that just because you’re going through cancer, does not mean it gets to define who you are.

After we finished recording, she looked at me with eyes blazing. She pointed at our audio file and said: “This is not about cancer. This is about hope.”

I smiled. Because she was right.

Listen in at ShapingSapiens.comSoundcloud, and iTunes. And shortly on YouTube. xo

Episode 4: Mountain Lion Time

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I first met Hope Ruiz two years ago at a writing retreat in the Texas Hill Country. We bonded over our shaved heads and her tale of an encounter with a mountain lion in Colorado. But, that, of course, was just the beginning — the tip of her extraordinary life story. From a life as a young monk to a landscape artist to a love story on the Mexican/American border and the inevitable battle with U.S. Immigration, Hope proves that no matter the plan (A, B, C, D, or E), the next big leap may turn into the greatest, most rewarding adventure of all.

Listen in at ShapingSapiens.com and Soundcloud.

And iTunes and YouTube, shortly. xo

Photo Credit: Jöshua Barnett

Creative Mornings: Risk

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“Sometimes, great tragedy is the catalyst for great adventure.”

Two weeks ago I had the honor of speaking at Creative Mornings Austin, and it gives me great pleasure to officially share it with all of you. This story is the culmination of the last two years of my work and my life, and I am so proud to post it here today.

Thank you to my friends, my coach, my professors, my family, Mechi, and  every. single. person that hosted me on my journey last year. This talk would NOT have been possible without all of you…

And last but not least, thank YOU, dear friend reading this now. This story is for you.

May your next “Yes” turn into the best risk of all.

xoxo
Amelia

 

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Episode 3: #MomLife

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Who knew 10 years ago these two girls would be sitting down together one day to talk about MOTHERHOOD and the relentless pursuit of honoring our teenage dreams despite all the sharp twists and turns of life?!
 
Not I. 🙂
 
In this special Mother’s Day episode of Shaping Sapiens, I get to sit down with the indelible Lauren Halcik and learn all about the last decade of her life from promising opera singer to young mom, wife, feminist, business woman, and now, homeschool “crunchy” mom extraordinaire. Lauren’s story proves that throughout all the detours of life, with enough grit, love, and determination, the road may always rise up to meet you.
 
Listen in at ShapingSapiens.com
 
 
And iTunes and YouTube later today. 🙂
 
The mother in me honors the mother in all of you. Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. xo

Episode 2: Great Expectations

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Have you ever had a friend that when you’re with them, it feels as if you can conquer the entire world together? That anything you can possibly dream really can come true?

I’m fortunate to have a friend like that, and her name is Mechi. Though we started out as polar opposites, she has become one of my greatest teachers. One who was crazy enough to invite me along on a 5,000 kilometer road trip across South America for one of the greatest lessons of my life: a crash course in letting go and learning to let the Universe in.

Now, a year later our story is Episode #2: Great Expectations on Shaping Sapiens! Who knew all you needed to drive across a continent was faith, trust, and a little bit of Mechi dust? 😉 We’re ready for your earbuds on ShapingSapiens.com, YouTube, and Soundcloud. And on iTunes and TuneIn tomorrow.

Happy #TBT, y’all! xo

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air

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Two nights ago, I finished reading When Breath Becomes Air, the story of Paul Kalanithi, a dying neurosurgeon and his quest for meaning through his profound love of neuroscience and literature. Three mornings ago, I also lost of one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever known and had the equal fortune of being loved by.
 
Paul’s story helped me to find the words to honor my aunt, and in his words, “In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”
 
My Tia Ada, who was also my godmother and the only grandmother figure I’ve ever really, really known, passed away at the young age of 81. Though, I have definitely, definitely shed a torrent of tears, I am surprised by how peaceful I feel with her passing. Of course, the guilty part of me feels like it’s unnatural to be so… ok… and I can feel the tempting pull to join the chorus of the bereaved and declare that “the world just got a little bit darker…”
 
… but almost like a gymnast on a balance beam, I righten back up to my center, and I find that I really, truly, am GLAD for her… happy even… in awe of her new birth into the other side. My days don’t feel darker; they feel brighter!
 
Because I feel more connected to her than I’ve ever felt before.
 
Two nights before she passed, I was cooking dinner and listening to the Oldies station on my Pandora radio. Usually, the station plays a really nice diverse mix of songs. But that night, every other song was an Elvis song. My aunt LOVED Elvis. She had Elvis memorabilia all around her house, even had a Elvis wall clock that would play one of his songs at the top of the hour, every hour. When I realized Elvis’s familiar croon kept coming back, I knew it was a sign. She had been at the hospital in Dallas for a week at that point, and her kidneys were failing, was suffering with high fevers, and was no longer able to speak. Maybe she was already floating out in the abyss and came to let me know that her time was coming to an end.
 
You guys, she was the jolliest, loudest, wittiest, most loving soul I ever knew. I think I even learned how to laugh from her! When she laughed, she BURST like a starburst, showering everyone around her in contagious merriment.
 
GOD, I loved her. How my heart aches knowing I will miss her every day for the rest of my physical life.
 
Thank you, Paul Kalanithi, for living, for searching, and for writing your book. Because what I have learned is this: The way we view Death is how we, ultimately, live Life.
 
And my Tia Ada, that pistol-packin’ Texas girl… she definitely LIVED.
 
xoxo

Shaping Sapiens: My New Podcast Series!

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It is with great pride and a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and hair grease, that I am pleased to officially announce the launch of my new podcast series: Shaping Sapiens! Currently available on Soundcloud, YouTube, and this RSS feed. And coming (very) soon to iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and TuneIn, and other podcasts stations near you.

I won’t promise it’ll be great. I won’t promise it’ll be the podcast to end all podcasts. But, I CAN promise it will be real. As real as I can possibly be, featuring some of the greatest humans to walk the planet. If you’ve liked anything I’ve written, or like me even just a little, then you may like “Shaping Sapiens.”

Every once in a while, you come across a person who has a story that is so extraordinary, it feels like they’ve lived a life destined to become an Academy Award-winning movie. Last September, I had the honor of hearing Barbara Abelhauser tell her story at Fresh Ground Stories in Seattle and, immediately, HAD to meet her afterwards. Lucky for me, she became my friend, and it was because of her encouragement and trusting spirit that this podcast is even a thing. Thanks for being my first story, Barbara, and thank you for showing me how a life lived outside the ordinary is a life that is always worth pursuing. Her story is featured as the very special, very first episode: “Comfort Zone.” Now available for your listening pleasure at ShapingSapiens.com.

To find out more about Barbara, follow her blog, The View from a Drawbridge.

Thank you for joining me here, friends. And I hope you’ll join me on this new storytelling adventure, too. This is me, doing my part, to make America Great Again.

love, Love, LOVE. Always.

Amelia

In Spite of Fear

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As many of you know, I gave a talk this past weekend in NYC about my travels this year. (It was dubbed a “smasheroo” – something I am so honored by and so grateful to everyone that attended and all of you who wished me luck beforehand.) I spoke about my roadtrip in South America, my roadtrip across the U.S., and my recent travels in Northwestern Europe. I spoke about bravery, about risk-taking, about dreams, goals, and about the courage it takes to carry on despite setbacks and the fears that threaten to paralyze us from moving forward.

I spoke Saturday night, barely 24 hours after the Paris attacks, and underneath my spoken words ran a deep tremble in my bones. How could I be standing in front of a crowd talking about my incredible, wonderful year of adventures when such a terrible tragedy had just taken place? Even though I dedicated my presentation to Paris and Beirut at the top of the hour, my spirit was not relieved.

I WAS JUST THERE, I thought. I was just THERE walking those SAME streets… Walking into those same cafes…

That could have been me.

Then, my mind reviewed all the other “could haves” that could have happened this year…

Missing my train from Germany back to Brussels, because of radical right-wingers protesting the influx of Syrian refugees.

Driving through Roseburg, Oregon, a month before the shootings at Umpqua Community College took place.

Leaving the Oakland apartment I was staying in two days before a drive-by took place.

Being at Harbin Hot Springs in California three weeks before it was completely devoured by a wildfire.

Surviving Pike’s Peak in Colorado after a near-death experience of terrifying altitude sickness.

Escaping an Argentinean policeman with rape in his eyes when he saw my friend and I with our hand-painted van trying to park next to a supermarket for the night.

Escaping another man who propositioned me at a gas station in Rock Springs, Wyoming, after seeing I was traveling alone.

Then, I had to stop, because the list could keep going. I HAD to stop, because when I looked at this list… I realized with great clarity: not once did I not keep going. I had to get on that next train. I had to get down from that mountain. I had to leave that gas station. I had to come to New York to do that presentation.

There was no other way.

A friend of mine once shared a passage Charlotte Delbo, an Auschwitz survivor, wrote. It went something along the lines of: “I implore you do something, anything to justify your existence. Learn a dance step, pick up a paint brush, anything at all…because it would be all too senseless for so many to have died while you live doing nothing with your life.”

So, go to Disney World! Drive to that audition! Write that message to that old high school lover you just found on Facebook! Have that baby! Go to the gym! Eat that cheesecake! Submit that book! Post that video! Talk to that cute guy at the coffee house! Buy that expensive couch! Give to that charity! Adopt that elephant! Say “I love you!” Climb that Great Wall! Call that person you haven’t spoken to in years!

STEP OUT OF YOUR FRONT DOOR.

Because fear and darkness lose every time you carry on.

It does not mean that we forget. It does not mean that we ignore. It simply means: honor life by living your own.

Brilliantly.
Beautifully.
Unequivocally.
With kindness for all.

<3,
A