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Shaping sapiens

Now Available on iTunes

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5.12.19 - Growing up the daughter of a Japanese American mother and a father of French-Canadian descent, Fran Tatu was raised with an immense capacity for compassion for others. Her parents were human rights activists, her father a U.S. diplomat, and between the ages of 6 months and 16 years, Fran lived in over nine different countries, mostly in Southeast Asia. What her parents taught her was to never judge another because of what they looked like or what they didn’t have, but rather to love them and meet them where they are. This foundation is what fuels Fran to travel across the country today and fight against injustice, especially on behalf of the families being separated at the border. Fran teaches that a little kindness goes a long way, and ultimately, when we are called to do what is right, we are never alone on the journey.

Photo credit: NPR

4.28.19 - For centuries, our species has used storytelling for entertainment, to document our history, to heal our hearts, and even to survive. Without it, our world would be less colorful, more binary, and certainly less magical. As a novelist and playwright, Josh Wagner is no stranger to the power of a story, and in this episode, he reminds us that life is unpredictable and sometimes inconceivable. Yet, if we can hold on and trust the story, we might find the ending to be more extraordinary than we could have ever imagined.

Photo credit: Josh Wagner



3.31.19 - So much of our lives is spent in transit. It is easy to take for granted the road underneath us, always assuming it’ll be there to get us where we need to go. Imagine the stories we could learn if roads could talk. In her new book of poetry, Failure to Merge, Micah Ruelle personifies Interstate 35, giving it a voice that is hard, edgy and wise. I-35 is the only highway to cross the U.S. from north to south, and Micah credits it as the highway that raised her. Her book is a series of letters that address the differences between its borders, its infamous exits, and how the changes we desperately need to make as a nation must first begin with ourselves.

Photo credit: Andy Tucker


Simone on the river in Kurdistan

3.3.19 - For much of her life, Simone Allmen was no stranger to dangerous situations. Having lived on a commune in New Mexico and hopping all over the world, she eventually found herself in L.A. falling in love with documentary film-making. In 2005, she travelled to Kurdistan and Iraq for what was supposed to be a short 3-week film project but what turned into an epic 4-year odyssey of trying to help tell the stories of the Kurdish people. Simone’s story is raw with no wrinkles smoothed out. Full of darkness and light, she teaches that no matter how many lifetimes you survive, there is always room for more, if you are audacious enough to show up for it.

Photo credit: Simone Allmen, pictured on a river in Kurdistan

Episode 12: We are called to change the world

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1.27.19 - What do you do when you are called to change the world? In 1969, the answer for Mrs. Pamela Stanescu was, “I guess I’ll teach!” For 45 years, Mrs. Stanescu remained a constant in the halls of Warner Robins High School, teaching everything from English to AP Government to AP Art History. She was our Google before we had Google. In the span of 10 minutes, she can take you from Palladio’s architecture to the depths of Van Gogh, then onto poverty in Middle Georgia and finally wrapping up with the inspirational work of Vygotsky. Most of all, she would always address us as “Great and Glorious Human Beings!” and we believed her, because what she saw in us, we saw in her.

Photo credit: WRHS 1971 "Pioneer" Yearbook (Editor's Note: Please note the yearbook mispelling; correct spelling is "Pamela.")

Episode 11: Turning Points

Ashley Monical

12.9.18 - Life is filled with turning points that can make or break us. For Ashley Monical, walking away from a $30,000 Kickstarter campaign in 2015 with a newly released album and all the exciting promotional opportunities that come along with it, was just one of many defining moments in her life. Ashley teaches us that through small choices and a stubbornness to follow her own personal truth, the way to light is always by facing one's own shadows.

Photo credit: Bonnie Barton

Episode 10: An extraordinary journey

Sunset over Baja California

11.25.18 - What would you do if you were told that you could die at any minute? For most people, remaining calm is not an option. For Gary Ramsey, it was the only option. As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, his sense of awareness of the present moment and his mastery of tranquility aided him in making the most important decision of his life, which lead to an incredible healing journey to Mexico. Gary shows us that even in the face of death, an unshakeable grip on one’s intuition can lead to an adventure that’s more remarkable than one could ever have hoped for.

Photo credit: Simon Dubreuil


Kristi's Dia de Los Muertos altar

10.28.18 - There are people who come into your life with different offerings on how to see the world. When I was 23, I met a woman whose fascination with death radically jolted my brain. “We do death wrong,” Kristi Curry said to me, as we sat around at her Day of the Dead birthday party several years ago. She had become one of the most intriguing people I had ever met. As I looked around the room that evening, watching the guests with their loved one’s photos, telling stories and laughing, the idea that death could be celebrated was revolutionary — and quite possibly, the most beautiful, natural thing we could aspire to do in life.

Photo credit: Kristi Curry


Women's Marc

1.29.17 - In this special 2017 season premiere episode of Shaping Sapiens, we'll witness sounds and stories from the Women's March on Washington from different marchers in different cities across the country. As a participant in the march myself, I've come to understand that these stories are vital. In a nation -- a WORLD -- that appears to be so divided, the only thing that can bring us together is LISTENING to each other and LEARNING that we are much more alike than we are different. Our show's mission aims to educate, inspire, and unite us one Shaping Sapien at a time. But, what exactly is a "Shaping Sapien"? I'm so glad you asked. It's you. It's me. It's every one of us, each member of the recent human race. All of us, in this together, shaping each other, for better or for worse, for every future generation to come. So, let's start listening, shall we?

Photo credit: Amelia Torres

EPISODE 7: being funny iS BRAVE

10.23.16 - 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?" 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.

Photo credit: Madeline Vu

EPISODE 6: The Fire still burns

9.25.16 - They say when you have a dream, the whole universe will conspire to make that dream a reality. At first, that dream can feel SO RIGHT, so seductive, so sure...Especially when you're a 20-something 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 teaches us that if that 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 to it once again.

Photo credit: Vecna - Metal Band


9.4.16 - How does one fight cancer? With vengeance? Tears? Determination? Prayers? Hope? Our guest today chooses to fight it with fire. This conversation takes place just a few hours after receiving her 6th chemotherapy treatment. I wasn't even sure if she'd be up for it. But after we got home, 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." Stephanie Jensen Garza 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.

Photo credit: Xavier Garza

Episode 4: Mountain Lion Time

5.29.16 - Sometimes you hear a story that is so extraordinary, you can't help feeling like you just got off one of the most insane, merciless rollercoaster rides of your life. Our guest today has that kind of story, one that leads the listener through every harrowing twist and turn imaginable. From a life as a monk to an encounter with a mountain lion to a love story on the Mexican/American border and the inevitable battle with U.S. Immigration, Hope Ruiz is a woman that proves no matter the plan (A, B, C, D, or E), the next big leap may turn into the greatest, most rewarding adventure of all. 

Photo credit: Jöshua Barnett

5.8.16 - Who knew 10 years ago two small town pageant 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? In this special Mother's Day episode, I get to sit down with the indelible Lauren Halcik and learn all about her last decade 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.

Photo credit: Lauren Halcik

Episode 2: Great Expectations

4.14.16 - 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, Mechi 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.

Photo credit: Amelia Torres

Episode 1: Comfort Zone


3.27.16 - 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.

Photo credit: Amy Sassenberg