Episode 18: Accepting Life and Self in Chronic Illness w/ Lisa Spears

Lisa was an ambitious 20-something working for the United Nations when a sudden and chronic illness became debilitating, leaving her unable to work. This the story of facing her illness, a shocking diagnosis, and her ability to let go of expectations of life and self. It's a story about losing loved ones, forgiveness, and self-compassion. It's about coming to terms with death and how she redefined a meaningful life.

About Face is a member of Bear Radio, the premier English speaking podcast network of Berlin. 

This episode included music by Miss Kenichi.

Episode 17: The Truth Changes Everything w/ Tim Maas

Our guest Tim, shares semi-anonymously about his experiences with an unexpected pregnancy, as a new father, and a truth about his life that changed everything. It's a story that reminds us how to move forward through life's challenges, and how to face the most impossible decisions without regret. 

No one’s life turns out perfect. Nothing works out exactly the way that we’ve planned or expected, but the question is what we do with our mistakes, or those moments that force us into difficult decisions, or different paths.  There are so many experiences in life that can injure us, leave us weaker, scared or less. Like Tim said, everyone reacts differently. Some people suffer a tragedy or loss and never really recover. Others are still able to see beauty and possibility and grateful for what they’ve had.

This is an episode is about life turns and those unforeseen, unexpected challenges. Betrayals and loss. The real-life concoction of beauty and pain, the way that many of our experiences of love, can also have a shadow.

About Face is a member of Bear Radio, the premier English speaking podcast network of Berlin. 

In this episode you the songs, "Your Shattered Outline" and "The Memory Changes Every Time I Remember," by The Space Where She Was.

Also, "Different Angles" by the artist, Ketsa with rights from the Free Music Archive. 


Episode 16: Reclaiming the Voice After Emotional Abuse w/ Reema Zaman

The relationships we inhabit can shape and define us, and how we see ourselves. Who we choose to love and let love us matters, because in the wrong hands, we may suffer from neglect, abuse, oppression, and even, the total loss of self. One of the most difficult decisions is to know when someone we love is no longer serving us, or worse, actually causing us harm. What does it take to break away, and how do we know when to do it?

This is a story about love, but also co-dependency and the very complicated nature of emotional abuse. But more, it’s a story about how one woman used her own oppression to find her voice.

My guest today is Reema Zaman. Reema is an award-winning writer, visual artist, actress and speaker, and the author of the memoir I Am Yours. She is from Bangladesh and immigrated to New York When she was 18. When she was 25, she fell in love and married into a relationship that shifted the direction of her life. She writes and talks about what it is like to fall into emotional abuse as well as how to find your voice when you come out of the darkness.

More about Reema:

The 2018 Oregon Literary Arts’ Writer of Color Fellow, Reema Zaman is an award-winning writer, actress, speaker, and author of the critically acclaimed memoir I AM YOURSI Am Yours debuted on the Powell's Bestseller list, alongside Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming. Born in Bangladesh and raised in Thailand, Reema’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Ms. Magazine, Vogue, The Guardian, Salon, Guernica, Shape, and elsewhere. Reema has the honor of partnering with the International Rescue Committee and Girls Inc. to serve key causes and empower the next generation of leaders. As the only Reema Zaman in the world, she is easy to find on social media. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter and learn more at reemazaman.com.

About Face is a member of Bear Radio, the premier English-speaking podcast network of Berlin.

Music for this episode was provided by Miss Kenichi 

Episode 15: Lessons of Oppression and Injustice w/ Naniso Tswai

Naniso shares his experience growing up in the generation following Apartheid and describes the difference between institutionalized and systemic racism versus other forms of covert oppression. We talk about a particular instance where he was physically assaulted and detained at an airport and how the attack figures into his consciousness, as a thought leader and in how he interacts with the world.

The way that we see ourselves in the world begins with our family, where are we in the pecking order. As we grow up, we learn more about who we are and where we come from. Even as children, we internalize our individuality through the subtext and organization of our communities and in the context of other social constructions like gender, ethnicity, and nationality. Consciously and unconsciously, how we see ourselves is shaped by how we fit into the world. But, what happens when your identity, the way you see yourself is shaken beyond your control, how do you reckon with this realization- maybe you aren’t who you thought you were? Or maybe the way the world sees you is not the way you’ve always seen yourself.

Naniso was born a few hundred kilometers north of Johannesburg, South Africa in the homelands or rural villages established during Apartheid. We talked about his early life and what it was like growing up in the generations during and after Apartheid and the difference between systemic and institutionalized oppression versus covert racism.

About Face is a member of Bear Radio, the premier English speaking podcast network of Berlin. 

Music for this episode was provided by Miss Kenichi

And the song "What She Thought of Herself," by The Space Where She Was.

Episode 14: Why Fortune and Fame are Never Enough w/ Tania Lacy

Tania Lacy was a famous Australian television personality during the 80s and early 90s before she got fired for hijacking the station in protest. Losing her job led to a loss of identity and a reckoning with her own sense of self. This is a story about her height as a celebrity and the fall into obscurity and heroin addiction. This is a story about Tania's ballet accident that ruined her dance career, her transition into  choreography and Kylie Minogue's "Locomotion" video and her rise as a television star and woman in comedy. We talk about why fortune and fame are never enough, how to forgive ourselves, and why strength and power must come from within. 

Episode 13- Finding Light in the Dark with Justin Evans

Why are some of us capable of changing our lives and finding the right path while others get lost along the way? What influence does mental illness play in our ability to recover? How do we navigate our way out of broken homes, addiction, and family mental illness?

This episode features Justin Evans host of The Peripheral and co-host of The Generation Why. He is is widely considered one of the pioneers in the true crime podcast genre and has a compelling personal history involving recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction/drug dealing. We talked about his family history of mental illness and addiction, the loss of his brother, his personal decision to break away from his past and his family, and how he paved his own way.  

Episode 12- Shedding the Armor with Hannah Graves

Tattoos, piercings, punk rock, rockabilly- the look and the subculture can have a hard-shell appearance, but what about those individuals underneath? What is the relationship between subculture and individual identity? Is there a correlation between mental health and extreme tattooing? How do subcultures give us strength and armor, and at what point are we lost to ideology? Is there a false security in our fight for belonging? 

This is one woman’s journey--how she found hope, strength and security in a subculture, while also learning to shed the armor and uncover her own truth and find an authentic direction for herself. This episode deals with mental health, including anxiety and depression, drug and alcohol addiction, suicide, loss, and recovery.

Episode 11- Making Birth Visible with Carmen Winant

I want to start at the beginning, with birth. This episode is about birth stories, the challenge of birth, motherhood and parenthood, and the potential of discovery in this process.  In the first part, I will share my own story about a traumatic birth, my experience in the silence around birth, and the feeling that, though it is universal, it can be a solitary and isolating experience. I sought out the visual artist and writer, Carmen Winant, to talk about her work, My Birth, the powerful installation at the MOMA, the missing and misrepresentations of birth in cultural representations, as well as the challenges in the transition into motherhood. In addition to birth, we also talked about feminism in motherhood, and the potential for political action around these specific women’s issues, birth, and parenting.

For more information about Carmen Winant here is a link to her website: carmenwinant.com

A few mentions. About Face is a member of Bear Radio, the premier English speaking podcast network of Berlin.

Music for this episode was provided by Miss Kenichi.

Intro to Season 2

Here is a little teaser I’ve recorded for Season 2. I’ve decided to approach the podcast a bit differently this season. Mostly the format will stay the same, but I’m looking to dig a little deeper into authenticity, in my own voice, in my interviews, and in the production process. This season we will be featuring a diverse number of guests who have faced darkness including relationships and love, parenting, illness and near death experiences, addiction recovery, social conflict, and more...

Subscribe now and stay tuned for new episodes beginning December 10.

Episode 10 - Jason Snell (Part II)- Recovery, Reparations, and Redemption


Our interview was long and there were so many strands and winding threads of his story, that I decided to split this episode into two parts. I also wanted these episodes to be about the two versions of every story. There is the destruction, the collateral damage, the loss that can come with addiction, death, pain, and any darkness. But there is also a beauty that comes with healing, recovery, and coming out the other side.

Ultimately that’s what this show is about, the beauty and healing that comes with darkness.

Where we left off. Jason had just lost his friend Eric to a heroin overdose, and after he went through his own recovery, learned that his ex-girlfriend Naomi, died in a drunk driving accident in New Orleans. Jason told me about his long period of grieving, getting sober, and his process of making amends with those he had hurt, including Willow, another friend, who had begged him not keep using after Eric died.

Addictions or not, we all have periods in our lives where we hurt those closest to us. Maybe it was a distancing, lies we told, pains we caused, or an event that caused a rift, but when we want to come back, it is often possible, with humility. Jason wanted to repair the damage that had been done with his family and friends, but soon realized that there was one relationship that would be more complicated to repair. 

How do we learn to accept ourselves and our past? Jason and I follow up on the destruction that ended in death and loss in a story about recovery and reparations. We talk about how to let go, the gratitude and peace that can be found in survival, how his own recovery made him realize an authentic life. We also talk about forgiving ourselves and our parents and why people who are more sensitive to the world are more likely to become addicts. 


Episode 8 - Julia Kratz - Our Bodies: Addiction, Escape, and Sexuality


This episode is about the relationship between sexuality and eating disorders, the power of women’s sexuality versus objectification, addiction, transcendence of the mind and body, and the healing power of embodiment.

The human body, it’s complicated and mysterious systems, directly influences our emotions, our response to memory, and simply, how we interact with the world and with life. Inhabiting our bodies is more than just the machinery of living, moving, and acting. It’s how we identify, how we relate and perceive ourselves and our environment. It is not a surprise that it is the human body that often takes the toll when we are suffering, or in pain. Or that many of us turn against our own bodies during times of grief or trauma.

It’s a primal way to disconnect with the world.

My guest today is actress Julia Kratz, a woman I would describe as bold and ageless, the kind of woman who wears big hats and bright lipstick, and can pull off platforms and chunky jewelry that could have been picked up at a flea market or at an expensive boutique in Paris. She’s fluent in German, French, and English, deeply intellectual and worldly. Her father was a diplomat, working for a very young EU in Africa during the 60s. Her early childhood was spent in different countries throughout Africa, including Tunisia, Morocco, Cameroon, and Niger where she describes the happiest years of her youth, as a very simple sub-desert life.


In some ways, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, and other addictions are manifestations of this escape from the human body the human form, giving us distractions from the things we don’t want to feel, the physiological responses that are too painful to cope with. In previous episodes, we’ve talked about this deviation that happens in adolescence, that transition from childhood into adulthood where something is lost, and many of us spend years, decades, even our lives trying to figure out what it was, and how to reclaim it.

Julia’s story is about human body, the shame that can accompany adolescence and sexuality, and the ways that she fought against herself, her family, and even nature in order to survive. Ultimately, this is a story of rediscovery and embodiment, how to forgive the past, to love ourselves, and embrace the bodies we inhabit. 


Episode 7 - Cedric Till - Beyond the Mask of Toxic Masculinity

Photo Credit: Megan Spencer

Photo Credit: Megan Spencer

The inner-lives of men have always been mysterious to me. What is it is like to perform masculinity? What does the pressure of being a man feel like? I’ve never been forced into a physical altercation or had to defend myself with strength, or had my self-worth measured by my perceived strength, dominance, or income. Of course, it’s true that women are forced to perform femininity and are judged in a host of other ways, but it led me to this question: what qualities are associated with gender and how does it impact the way we learn to express ourselves, or limit our potential to evolve?

With the rise of the #metoo campaign, a spotlight has been focused on toxic masculinity, but rarely do we investigate the internal struggles of being a man in a culture that rewards aggression and dominance.

My guest today is Cedric Till, a spoken word artist and storyteller who wrote to me about his transformation in the last years, after surviving childhood trauma, a diagnosis of ADHD, and institutionalized living for his violent behavior. What got my attention was how he described his transformation as it related to connecting to a female energy, deriving strength in feminine qualities and relationships, and how finding language and voice through rapping and poetry made him more vulnerable.

Before recording this, I thought, let's do a show about overcoming toxic masculinity, but it is actually about something else. Listen to the whole interview, because his transformation was actually so much more powerful, and one we can all learn from. 

Episode 6- Lisa - Severance


Family secrets--what are yours? Every family has them. I have some that I can’t put on this podcast, though I really contemplated doing so just to air them, for myself. In the end it just seemed too heavy, too much, too revealing for those involved. But they are right at the tip of my tongue. Part of me thinks that airing them will be liberating, giving voice to my own experiences and my pain, but the other side of me says, no: it’s self -indulgent, and too many people would get hurt.

Silence can break an individual, but the truth can tear a family apart…so how do we decide, what to say, what not to say, when is it our own burden to bear?

Most families struggle with balancing the bonds of cohesion and the needs of individuals. Individual truth. Individual desires. Individual crisis and struggles. We are going to talk about what it means to suffer because of family, also when it’s time to get distance or even sever ties for the sake of your own wellness and truth.

This is a painful shift in life—but one that can be necessary to healing and moving on. My guest is Lisa, who decided after our interview that she didn’t want to use her last name and to remain anonymous. We talked about about her own family secrets, the tragedies that tore her family apart, and the ways that she had to sever herself to heal and become whole.  

About Face is now a member of the Bear Radio Network. 

Please take a few moments to leave us a review on iTunes!

Music for this episode from Free Music Archive. Artists: Broke for Free and Chris Zabriske

Episode 5 - Larry Tee - Manifest


How do we face our challenges and manifest change? How do we decide the next right step without being held back by fears? How do we break through, despite our perceived limitations, whether that is a lack of time or money or something more personal?

Larry Tee is a song writer, producer, international DJ and most recently a fashion designer and founder of the label Tzuji, which has been spotted on celebrities like Missy Elliot and Rhianna. He was one of the original Club Kids and arrived on the New York scene with his friend and collaborator, Rupaul, in the late 80s. Larry is often working behind the scenes. You might know him by the top 40-hit he co-wrote in the 90s, "Supermodel (You Better Work)."

Larry was born in Seattle and moved to Atlanta as a small child where he did most of his growing up. His first boyfriend was Michael Stipe, lead singer of REM. He was also working collaboratively on a number of television and music projects with a young and the unknown, Rupaul. Larry looks back on these early Georgia days as a time where he learned a lot about the creative process, calling it a laboratory, for his own creativity and inspiration.

In this episode, Kate talks with Larry about his creative learnings in Atlanta, coming out in the height of the AIDS epidemic, his experiences as an integral part of the New York Club Kids, and how he overcame his personal struggles, like drug and alcohol addiction. Larry shares his own sources of inspiration and gives insight on how to manifesting change and creativity at every stage in life.

Left to right: Larry Tee, Lizette, Michael West, RuPaul, Lurleen Wallis, Lahoma

Left to right: Larry Tee, Lizette, Michael West, RuPaul, Lurleen Wallis, Lahoma

Episode 4- Ally - Freedom

Ally- Episode 4

In this episode, Kate sits down with a woman she calls Ally, a former "trophy wife" who gave up everything when she realized she wasn't living her authentic life. Ally didn't want to be identified by name or expose others who were involved in this story because. . . people got hurt. This is an episode about how Ally struggled to reconcile feminism and wife/motherhood, personal freedom and security, as well as the "grass is always greener" myths surrounding romantic relationships and singledom.

Kate also discusses her own struggle with losing the independence and freedom that comes with detachment before marriage and children, as well as the pressures faced by unmarried women in their 20s and 30s and beyond. It's an episode that deals with the personal struggles we have inside and outside our relationships, and how to evolve in an authentic way when we are bound to interpersonal commitments.  

This is an episode for anyone who is in a committed relationship who reminisces about what life used to be like before marriage, or children, or falling in love… who sometimes pines for freedom and independence, the joy of being completely untethered. And, it is for anyone who is single who thinks that maybe their life isn’t quite complete yet because they are still looking for their life partner, a better half. 

It’s about the myths and stories we tell ourselves about the other side. It’s about the before and after, the looking back, and the looking ahead. It’s also about freedom and security and the many ways we have to choose one over the other.

And these are choices we make, over and over and over….

Episode 3 - Sam Clayton - Homecoming


If you were looking at my friend Sam, you would see that he kind of glows. He’s handsome with blonde, streaky grey surfer hair, wide, kind eyes and a well-trimmed, hipster beard. Even though we both grew up in Seattle, Sam and I met in Berlin in 2012 after we were introduced by some mutual friends. Friends who I met in Istanbul, and he met in Saigon. It was worlds colliding and we immediately had a special bond. Sam and I have suffered with many of the same struggles—depression, addictions, and that same sense of wanderlust that drove us away from the U.S. but also made us long for a kind of homecoming, both spiritual, and literal.

As I came to know Sam, I learned more about his upbringing in the Mormon Church and his experience as one of the first openly gay students to graduate from Brigham Young University. This is a conversation I had with Sam about his crossroads with the Mormon Church and the life he’s built since he graduated from BYU nearly 20 years ago. 

If you haven't already, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. It is a great act of support in helping us build our audience. Here are the instructions to Leave a Review on iTunes.

And don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

One more episode caveat! I apologize for the low sound quality on this recording. It was my first live interview and I wasn't able to remove the background noise. However, you can expect professional recording improvements in future episodes!

You can read more about Sam on his blog Carnivals of Affection




Episode 2- Susie Kahlich- Superpowers


Susie Kahlich has always been brassy, even back to her early years in Chicago and punk rock days in 1980s New York. In this episode, we sit down and talk about the impact of sexual assault, the night she was brutally attacked in L.A. and her life’s work teaching self-defense to women.

We did this interview before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, before the #metoo campaign went viral. At the time, not even two months ago, it did feel like no one was talking about all the forms of harassment and assault that don’t involve penetration or rape that doesn’t involve a stranger or violence, but is still, just as painful, just as unwanted.  And we all know that it has everything to do with power. Even the conversation felt so cutting, and yet beneath the surface, both of us simmering with this feeling, this anger and agitation and fear and rage about what we knew had happened to us, what had happened to others, and this consuming, feeling that there was so much to say, so much unsaid.

This episode is about sexual violence, the body’s natural self-defense system, and Susie’s ability to translate a violent experience into one of self-love and transformation. 

If you haven’t already done so, please leave a review of About Face on iTunes -->

For more information about Susie's self-defense practice visit  her website at Pretty Deadly. You can also find her podcast on iTunes or follow the link here Artipoeus.


Episode 1 - Kate Leismer- Reckoning

I consider myself an expat, but I hate the term. It implies a kind of break up and severance, and though it is that, it was never meant to be intentional or permanent. Five years ago I was traveling around the world as a freelance writer. I wrote from Australia, Bali, Vietnam, Thailand, and eventually Europe. I spent about two years homeless by choice, living out of my car in the U.S. and then abroad after I called off my engagement. Some of my friends still call me the runaway bride.  Five years before that, I was working as an attorney in Manhattan before I quit, and got escorted out of my office at 30 Rock. And about five years before that, I was wearing an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed to a bench in a holding cell somewhere outside of Seattle. In one of my few remaining boxes that have moved around with me, I still have a copy of the mugshot.

I’ve had more than a few turn arounds in my life, and, that’s what this podcast is going to be about. How do we get where we’re going and what does it all mean anyway?

As a way to tell my story, I recorded a conversation I had with my friend Sam, who you’ll get to know in a later episode. We talked about the concept for my show, but also the story that got me here. 

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Teaser Episode

About Face is an interview and storytelling podcast featuring guests who have gone through a major turning point, a shift, a decision, or event that made them who they are today.

Have you gone through an experience that changed the course of your life? Do you remember that exact day, that moment, when some decision or event completely changed who you are today?  This is a podcast about the people left their home countries, took a risk, walked out on a marriage, or made a very big decision, to stay exactly where they were. Some people have had major change forced upon them, like infidelity or death, that caused them to move on in a different direction.

This is a podcast about turning points, but more, what we do with them and who we become. It’s about our challenges and courage, and our will to evolve. These are stories about who we were and who we are now.


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