The Connection Project
By Emily Olsen
Join host Emily Olsen as she interviews inspiring guests about their connection to emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
This podcast is an expansion of The Connection Project annual mental-health storytelling event.
The Connection Project Feb 04, 2022
Surviving Samsara - with Kagan Goh
Originally from Singapore, Kagan Goh is a Vancouver-based multidisciplinary Mad Artist: award-winning filmmaker, published author, spoken word poet, playwright, actor, mental health advocate and activist. He was diagnosed with manic depression at the age of twenty-three in 1993. Kagan is a well-known spoken word artist, essayist and poet, a respected and established voice in Vancouver’s literary community for over two decades. He has been invited to perform at readings, festivals, and radio and has published in numerous anthologies, periodicals, and magazines. In 2012, Select Books in Singapore published his Poetic memoir, focused upon his relationship with his esteemed father, Who Let in the Sky? Kagan is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker with several releases, including the award-winning Mind Fuck (1996) and Stolen Memories (2012); his films have been broadcast on national television and gained entry into respected film festivals across Canada. In Kagan Goh’s follow-up memoir, Surviving Samsara, he recounts his struggles with manic depression, breaking the silence around mental illness. From an honest and personal perspective, Surviving Samsara traces Goh’s experiences as he wanders through the highs of mania, the terrors of psychosis, and the lows of depression. From the welfare office to the hospital ward and many places in between, Goh struggles to discern the difference between mental health breakdowns and spiritual breakthroughs. Facing his experiences with courage and authenticity, Goh shares memories of family altercations, pushed to the brink of living on the street, and psychiatrist visits. He explores his diagnosis of bipolar mood disorder not only as a medical condition but as a spiritual emergence—a vehicle for personal growth, healing and transcendence.
Kagan Goh - Surviving Samsara by CAITLIN PRESS
“Samsara is defined as the ‘round of rebirth’ or ‘perpetual wandering’ … a continuous process of ever again and again being born, growing old, suffering and dying.”
—Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka Mahathera
Anchoring Love - with William MacPherson
William MacPherson is a mental health advocate and activist who currently works as a peer support worker, and also has a position with the Salt Spring Mental Wellness Initiative, which he co-facilitates and is the coordinator for a series of Summits. He is the president of the Chu’an Society, an Arts Society focused on advocacy for marginalized community members. He built his community-building skillset through affiliation with hip-hop company King of the Dot Entertainment. He managed their Vancouver division, setting up and co-hosting rap battles, and managing their shows. He enjoys rapping and singing for the healing benefits of self-expression, with a focus on freestyle, a practice that helps him enter wu wei (flow states).
William MacPherson believes the responsibility for mental illness needs to primarily fall to communities and not allopathic medical systems. While diagnoses have utility, too often people feel reduced to their diagnosis. Do not confuse the map with the territory. The map is the diagnosis, which interprets a person’s experience through the lens of pathology. The territory is the universality of human experience refracted through the unique prism of the individual.
Mental wellness is relational. It’s how we relate to ourselves, our family, our community, and our planet. It’s about building equity in our communities. It comes from inclusivity, creating spaces where we can realize our value is intrinsic and does not come from what we can produce or contribute. It is enhanced by human-to-human mutual support, not the hierarchical delineation of helper and helpee. Our mental health crises will begin to improve once we realize that the reductionist and holistic approaches to wellness are not in opposition, but synergistic.
Support - with Natalie Miller
Natalie Miller is the founder of Positive Relations Media. Originally from Scotland, she now calls beautiful BC, Canada home. Natalie is currently studying for a Professional Certificate in Mental Health & Addictions and works as a Peer Supporter & Group Facilitator. You can find Natalie by the lake or snuggling with 2 chiweenie puppers. Natalie has been challenged by her mental health for almost 20 years and after receiving a diagnosis of Bipolar 1 & PTSD in 2015, has been working hard to maintain a sense of equilibrium, through care strategies and medication. Natalie was later diagnosed with a chronic illness called Interstitial Cystitis, which is largely impacted by her mental health. Lifestyle tweaks have helped Natalie through her dark days and although recovery has been a journey, she believes human beings are built to overcome these challenges.
To connect with Natalie you can find her on Instagram or at her Blog.
There are three chapters on the island for Mental Health Recovery Partners (MHRP), growing in its development from BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) which still exists primarily to serve families. MHRP has resources to aid in the recovery journey, from family counselling, weekly support groups, peer support programs and Wellness Recovery Action Plan workshops.
To learn more about peer support and the BC movement of hope and wholeness for all, head to peerconnectbc.ca
Positive Relations Media
Positive Relations Media is a collective of media contributors from around the world promoting Hope, Empowerment and tools for Mental Wellness. We know that as individuals there are many things that go into wellness and recovery, with that in mind, we strive to deliver relatable content that will make you smile, peak your curiosity or help you feel less alone on your journey.
For the past year we have been bringing our unique perspectives and storytelling to the blog from 3 continents and 5 cities. It is so important to us that everyone get a place at the table to share their perspectives. We know that we can use those one of a kind experiences to open conversation, break down stigma and support others.
This winter we will be launching a brand new interactive wellness hub with space for personal development, psychology research, educational material, stories of lived experience, fitness, nutrition, creativity, mindful engagement and more - everything from yoga to D&D (Dungeons and Dragons)!
Future plans also include launching a print magazine and in person activities, allowing for our resources to be accessible both on and offline.
Both the magazine and online wellness hub will be primarily peer led. Using our community's lived experience of mental and physical challenges, we can work towards promoting a positive, personalized and self empowered journey of wellness and discovery.
We are looking for contributors to join the community and share their stories & passions with the world!
Head to www.positiverelationsmedia.com to learn more.
‘The best part of recovery is that you don’t need to do it alone!’
How It All Began - The Connection Project Live Event 2018
This Episode is audio from the very first Connection Project Event held in Sidney BC on October 6th, 2018.
From Emily Olsen, Founder:
2021 marks the fourth year of the Connection Project Mental Health Storytelling event. Since transitioning to a new job and beginning my pursuit of a Fine Arts Degree, I have not recorded any new podcasts. During the winter of 2020/2021, however, I had the idea to share audio from the first inaugural event since we didn't release all the footage on video. What came from the 2018 event was a documentary highlighting inspiration for the project, speaker stories, interviews with cast, crew, and audience members, as well as footage of the wonderful closing song, "Fire Within." When I listened back to the full audio last month, I discovered a renewed desire to release the event in its entirety.
The Connection Project 2018, Opening Night: My sister-in-law Joni Olsen welcomed everyone to the W̱SÁNEĆ Territory and opened the floor for the work to be done in a good way. She also uplifted me with her words and gave me the courage I needed to walk out on that stage for the very first time. Thank you to the speakers who shared with vulnerability from their personal lives: Wendy Picken, Jeff Custeau, Ian Bruce, Elizabeth Hall, Ryan Painter, and Ocean Johnston. Special Mention to Ella Baron who gave the Connection Project permission to use her illustrations previously published in the Guardian Magazine on June 27th 2017. Ocean Johnston also performed her original song "Mend" and Karen Lee White and Leslie Gentile performed "Fire Within" which has since become a source of great strength for those connected with the project.
This was only the beginning of the Connection Project. I continue to be astounded by the resilience and courage of others and so the Connection Project will continue to be a space where these stories, our stories, can be witnessed.
Lastly, I wish to thank Trevor Dineen and Ify Chiwetelu of the CBC Radio Show, Now Or Never, for their inspiration and love.
The Web of Energy - with Karen Lee White
Karen Lee White brings many blessing in this episode. May her wisdom, kindness, and lighthearted energy uplift and heal you. This podcast explores the gifts in everything, the fire within, and the silence where all things are possible.
An Entrepreneur, Karen Lee White has consulted, written, facilitated workshops, taught Aboriginal BEST for 3 years, and regularly appears in writing festivals. Certified in Aboriginal Employment/Business Development by the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, Karen is a self-described ‘Indigenous Human Transformation Specialist’. A proud Tuscarora, Northern Salish, Chippewa and Scots woman, she is a published Author (novel “The Silence” released 2018), with work in chronicles, periodicals, ezines, educational publications, and short-story compilations. Karen received an Indigenous Art Award for Writing by the Hnatyshyn Foundation in 2017. She has been commissioned by the Banff Centre for a special edition, and by theatres in Victoria and Vancouver. Karen Lee White is a well-known singer-songwriter with an album on itunes whose music is in the CBC North archives from her Yukon years. A Jewellery Designer/Silversmith, she is inspired by Indigenous people around the globe spending 9 years in the sub-Arctic and 3 years in Zimbabwe.
Walking Home - with Linda Hunter
Giving Voice to Suicide - with Daniel Scott
This episode with Daniel Scott is on the topic of suicide. When faced with accounts of suicide, Daniel "dared to look" at this complex subject and realized the importance of finding ways to give voice to suicide. As editor and contributor of an upcoming anthology of suicide poems, Voicing Suicide, Daniel engages this topic in his writing and offers space for others to voice their experiences of suicide.
In 2020 Ekstasis will be releasing Voicing Suicide an anthology of suicide poems he has edited with an afterword by Australian scholar, Dr. Katrina Jaworski. His poetry addressing suicide has been used by several suicide scholars in current academic chapters and papers. He has a chapbook [klee-shays] undone, volume one in production with Nose in Book Publishing. He won a one-act playwriting competition in New Brunswick in 1984. He is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and The federation of BC Writers, an Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria, School of Child and Youth Care, as well as a father and grandfather.
Daniel G Scott, is the 5th Artistic Director of the Planet Earth Poetry Reading Series in Victoria (since January 2016). He has published gnarled love, terrains, Random Excess and and most recently Aftertime with Ekstasis Editions, as well as black onion and two chapbooks: street signs and Interrupted with Goldfinch Press. In 1983 he published his first chapbook Pyramid and other dreams (The Purple Wednesday Society). He has individual poems in anthologies and chapbooks as well as numerous academic publications and, with Shannon McFerran, The Girls Diary Project (University of Victoria, 2013).
Love - with John Pogachar
In this episode, guest John Pogachar shares the inspiration behind a calling to create the Love on Every Billboard movement.
Love is essential to well-being. It is the way forward, the truth of who we are, and the manifestation of our alignment to self. Love connects us all. John is helping remind people of this worldwide, and is himself a beacon of light and love.
In 2018, when camping in Kings Canyon National Park, John came up with the idea to put the word LOVE on a billboard. 109 LOVE billboards have since gone up in 12 US states, and 5 countries including Russia, Canada, Ukraine, Austria, and New Zealand.
John Pogachar is the founder of the Love on Every Billboard movement, proud father of two amazing daughters, and has recently become a grandfather. John practices meditation and awareness and progresses on his journey of self-love while honouring his inner-child within. John spends much of his time connecting to nature, works as a life-coach, and has a forthcoming children's book which will be released sometime in late 2020. TRAILER SONG
The Beauty in Breathwork - with Joey Hauss
In this episode, Joey Hauss shares his knowledge of the benefits of breathwork and various meditative practices to increase levels of wellbeing in daily life. Breathwork can help to identify the sensation of stress in the body. In gaining familiarity with ones own inner physical stress-response, an individual becomes empowered to respond to their needs from a more informed place outside of fight-or-flight. Joey was most generous in this interview, and is living-proof that when we are called to do great work, the universe will conspire to put us there.
Joey Hauss is a Certified Wim Hof Method Instructor, facilitates online and in-person Breathwork Sessions, holds a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Jean Jacques Machado, is a Former US Marine Sergeant, and serves as an Evolving Out Loud Team Member.
I was first inspired by Joey after watching a video with Kyle Cease called Crying Through The Dark. I then did one of his online breath work sessions, and was equally blown away. Thank you for agreeing to this interview Joey!
Coming Home to Self - with Sylvia Ferrero
Sylvia Ferrero is a 2X Tri-Fit World Champion, has been a featured cover model and fitness pro for Oxygen and Natural Muscle Magazine, and coach to athletes, TV personalities, top-level executives, entrepreneurs and high-potentials who want to change the world.
As an elite athlete for most of her life, she’s learned that the best version of ourselves exist well beyond our comfort zone. Her travel adventures throughout the USA, Canada, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Bahamas, Spain, Trinidad/Tobago, Jamaica, Costa Rica and India rekindled her life-long belief: In order to impact the world, we must first learn to cultivate a genuine, heart-felt appreciation for the circumstances that show up in our lives, all who cross our path, and most of all, ourselves. Sylvia believes that when we allow our minds and hearts to open — accepting our most challenging experiences as our greatest teachers and lessons — bodies transform, lives blossom and communities thrive.
Sylvia has been featured in numerous fitness publications, instructional coaching videos, infomercials, NBC Miami, News Fox, ESPN2, Discovery Channel, eHow.com and even as a stunt double for the fabulous Sofia Vergara in a National Lampoon film.
The Freedom to Express Emotion - with Adam Olsen
In this Episode, Adam Olsen talks about embracing a holistic approach to well-being. In finding ways to incorporate self-care and healthy daily practices, Adam shares how these changes improved his capacity to perform at a higher level professionally. He too spoke to the importance of emotional expression and remembering our humanness. This interview was a wonderfully heartfelt conversation and one which will resonate for many.
Adam Olsen (SȾHENEP) serves as the Member for Saanich North and the Islands and Interim Leader for the B.C. Green Party.
Inspired by the incredible place and people he represents, Adam has a deep love and respect for his home in the Salish Sea (W̱SÁNEĆ). As an advocate and facilitator, he is committed to good governance and improving public participation to strengthen all aspects of the community and the province.
Twice elected as a Councillor in the District of Central Saanich (2008, 2011), Adam has always worked in his family businesses, from horticulture to Coast Salish knits. The result of two decades in the service and communications sectors is the valuable experience in building relationships, connecting people, problems, ideas and solutions.
Born in Victoria, BC, Adam has lived, worked and played his entire life on the Saanich Peninsula. He is a member of Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP), where he and his wife, Emily, are raising their two children, Silas and Ella.
Joy and Poetry - with Barbara Pelman
There are times we are like the pillbug in her poem - a small thing curled-up on the cold floor in an empty room, and there are times we remember there is an "outside," for which we find the door.
Barbara Pelman is a retired high school English teacher, and poet. She often conducts poetry workshops in her home, and is a frequent participant at Planet Earth Poetry. She has three published books of poetry: One Stone (Ekstasis Editions 2005), Borrowed Rooms (Ronsdale Press 2008) and Narrow Bridge (Ronsdale Press 2017) and a chapbook Aubade Amalfi (Rubicon Press 2016). In 2018 her glosa, “Nevertheless” won the Malahat Open Season Poetry Contest. Her poems can be found in the anthologies “Refugium” and “Sweet Water” (Caitlin Press), and “In Fine Form” ( Caitlin Press) and in various literary journals.
The Magic of Imperfect Creation - with Caleb Beyers
Circles of Connection - with Joseph Briante
In this rich and uplifting first episode of season 2, listeners are gifted with the articulate and generous offerings of Joseph Briante. A "warrior of well-being" in his own right, Joseph rolls up his sleeves to share insights about the many aspects of personal growth and healing. The conversation shines a light on the many opportunities to connect with oneself and the natural environment. Joseph's curious nature is a fresh lens through which to witness and consider well-being.
Joseph Edward Briante is a healing artist and a student at the Centre for Sport & Exercise Education at Camosun College. He’s a Taurus, lifelong Jedi, yogi, CrossFitter, mover, dancer, learner, neuroplastician, flâneur, bricoleur, bon vivant, recreational baritone and aspiring polyglot. He loves being an uncle, sitting in circle, and going deep over coffee and house music.
Beginnings & Endings
We're back after a six-week hiatus to bring you the final episode of Season 1.
During this absence, our very first guest, Diane Philipps, passed away.
Jen and Diane have been close friends for many years with a relationship built on love and deep spiritual connections. Humour was also a big part of their friendship as you'll gather from the quote below.
"Diane transitioned from this world, on into the next, where she will continue to spread her love and light with yet more reach than ever before. Watch for her in all the beauty that surrounds you - for that is what she represents. Let her memory remind you of the goodness in every seeming trial. And the next time you’re thinking about taking a risk...pushing your limits...and achieving new heights...think about Diane, blind as a bat, leaping off the wing of an airplane. If she can do it, so can you." - Jen Verscheure.
If you haven't heard the episode with Diane, please check it out, it was such an honour to interview her.
During this time also, Lisa said goodbye to her devoted and loyal dog Lily. May she rest in sweet peace and forever remind Lisa of the love that is always present and available to her.
In these times of deep reflection and introspection, many changes have become necessary for our individual growth and as such, it was decided that the Connection Project Podcast would continue with Emily Olsen as the sole host. In this episode, hosts Lisa, Jen, and Emily say farewell to working together as co-hosts. This was emotional and vulnerable to record, but one of the most liberating and beautiful things the three of us have created together.
Emily Olsen wishes to thank Jen and Lisa for their faithful and loving friendship since the inception of this project. The podcast will continue to grow and expand as a result of that support. Season 2 will begin next week.
Trust - with Jess Fudge
In this week's episode, trust is the theme for our discussion about well-being.
Our guest Jess Fudge brings great joy to the conversation while simultaneously embodying vulnerability and generosity of spirit.
Jess has admittedly no patience for superficiality and desires honest and meaningful relationships. Her life is lived with adventure in her heart and passion in her soul. Skydiver, Mentor, Athlete, Bungee Jumper, Traveller, Yogi, Teacher, Manager and Animal Lover. Her core values are trust, honesty, and integrity and Jess seeks to live life to the fullest while serving community in any way she can.
In this episode, Jess talks about a special relationship with her Grandfather Roy, manifesting her very first ticket to Burning Man in 2019, and how listening to the voice of her own inner intuition serves her well in life.
Follow Jess on Instagram @2fudge
Responsibility - with Pari Gill
In this week's episode, responsibility is explored in beautiful ways in this ongoing discussion about well-being.
Pari Gill is our guest this week, she shares how blessed this life can be when embracing our ability to respond to life-circumstance with calm and positivity. She speaks to the responsibility of growing ourselves up and how we owe that to our families and ourselves.
Pari was born to a middle-class family in rural Punjab in northern India. Family and God were the focal point of her life and she grew up a very happy child. Pari's parents sent her and her older sister to private school and instilled in them both a deep sense of responsibility to their studies and subsequent futures. Pari went on after post secondary school to marry her husband Paul at age 22. Pari devotes the majority of her life to her two children and remains responsible to herself through daily prayer and meditation.
In this episode we discuss the risks of becoming a couch potato in Pari's house and something called sanjog.
Honesty - with Dan Johnson
This episode on honesty feels particularly poignant in terms of well-being.
Dan Johnson - musician, friend to many, and lover of Ravens. In this episode our guest embraces conversation about honesty and the importance of our connection to our own inner-being or true self.
As Dan moved through life, he found many successes early on in adolescence and young adulthood but found that money and possessions were not what brought him a true sense of well-being. Dan's yearning for a simple life brought him to woodworking, sailing, and the harmonica. Dan spends his time playing music, enjoying his relationships and close-knit community, being on the water, and appreciating nature.
It's quite a gift to interview someone who is an old-soul. Dan was a lovely interview. He reminds us that to come together, to feel connection, to be part of a loving society, we need to have the courage to be honest with who we really are as individuals and to BE our wonderful selves.
Being in Dan's presence felt like poetry, a song, a wave...
This episode is dedicated to Dan's friend of over sixteen years, his faithful dog Okie.
COVID 19 - with Dr. Jonathan Kalman
In this first recording from isolation, host Emily Olsen interviews her friend, Dr. Jonathan Kalman about his understanding of the coronavirus and the many aspects of well-being.
In this episode, Dr. Kalman discusses resilience, mental health, and the need for contrast. Jon talks about the book he's working on, the importance of getting to know your neighbour, and how a friend pushed him toward 'finding his edge.' This was a fascinating conversation with a deep dive into medical processes and terminology, and the best therapy of all - Vitamin C (Connection).
Dr. Kalman is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor in the state of California and has dedicated his clinical practise to exclusively focus on regenerative medicine to provide his patients with a better quality of life. Dr. Kalman is a member of the American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) and he received his medical training from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ, where he served on the Board of Trustees as a student. Dr. Kalman has volunteered with the medical team at the annual Burning Man event for the last 13 years and is currently a Medical Duty Chief. He also works with medical teams at music festivals throughout California and is currently finishing his first book.
Dr. Jonathan Kalman: Email | Website
*This interview is a discussion only, its sole purpose is to expand the conversation about wellbeing and the many complexities we face in these extraordinary times. Please continue to follow the advice and guidance of your local health authorities. Thank you to the many front-line workers and their families, we love and appreciate you so much. Be well.
Compassion - with Aimes Gentile
Aimes Gentile came to be our guest on this podcast as a direct result of his truck breaking down. Well that, and the fact he offers listeners incredible insights regarding our theme.
In this episode we discuss well-being through the lens of compassion.
Self-compassion was key in his quest for well-being after a combination birth defect and degenerative knee-disease prevented Aimes from pursuing life as an athlete. His passion and drive never faltered because of this diagnosis, just his focus. Aimes shares his journey from avid cyclist and rower to joyous musician.
What an honour to share with our listeners, the gift of Aimes Gentile.
Presence - with Diane Philipps
We welcome to the podcast, the feisty and incomparable 77 years-young, Diane Philipps.
In this Episode we discuss well-being through the lens of 'presence.'
From lip reading to sky diving, Diane uplifts through the very presence of her being. She teaches acceptance and encourages the examination of limiting beliefs. During the interview, Diane was given a nickname and many laughs were shared.
It was an honour to spend time with Diane and we are blessed to have her as our first guest.
Welcome to our first Episode where we discuss well-being through the lens of "Synthesis."
Lisa and Jen and I believe we were 'placed together' for reasons beyond our knowledge.
This triad friendship seemed to have plans for us as we quickly discovered similar longings to further understand our human experience in a more meaningful way.
That longing brought us to this podcast and to further highlight humankind's deep desire to remember and relearn the value of connection.
Enjoy the show.
This introductory podcast welcomes hosts Lisa Bosman, Jen Verscheure, and Emily Olsen to the mic.
Lisa is born for the stage,
Jen is employed by the universe,
and Emily Olsen is endlessly grateful for the lessons learned while visiting the Great Wall of China.