Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Episode 34: Heidi Luerra





Check out one of the young mover and shaker of the art world: Heidi Luerra.  She is an art entrepreneur who made it her business to showcase a wide range of artists all across the globe with RAW:natural born artists, the world’s largest independent arts organization. She recently launched her new book to continue on with that vein, helping artists & creatives with the business side of art-making entitled "The Work of Art, A No Nonsense Field Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs".










Order Heidi's book here:  "The Work of Art"



Bio: Heidi Luerra is the Founder & CEO of RAW:natural born artists, the world’s largest independent arts organization. For almost 20 years, Heidi has worked with creatives and artists of all types. Originally a Northern California native, Heidi moved to Los Angeles at age eighteen to fulfill her dream of being a fashion designer, in turn, earning her business stripes the hard way as an independent creative entrepreneur. Over the past decade, Heidi has grown RAW to a worldwide operation in over 80 cities with almost 200k artists in the RAW community. She currently oversees a team of sixty from RAW headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. On September 17, 2019 Heidi launched her first book, "The Work of Art, A No Nonsense Field Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs (written by a creative entrepreneur who has endured her share of nonsense)." 



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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Episode 33: Margo Taft Stevers

Episode 33: Margo Taft Stever


Margo Taft Stever is a prolific poet who has worked with many great poets through the years and through her work founding the Hudson Valley Writers Center and Slapering Hol Press.  Listen to us discuss her two books of poetry that was released this year, her work process and philosophies!


      

Cracked Piano Book Cover by Margo Taft Stevens
You can purchase a copy here:  CavanKerry Press

Ghost Moose Book Cover by Margo Taft Stevens
You can order your copy here: Kattywompus Press.  

END OF HORSES

I write to you from the end
of the time zone. You must realize
that nothing survived after

the horses were slaughtered.
We sleep below the hollow
burned-out stars.

We look into dust bowls
searching for horses.
When you walk in the country,

you will be shocked to meet
substantial masses on the road.
We do not know whom to blame

or where the horses were driven,
who slaughtered them, or for what
purpose. Had the horses slept

under the linden trees? The generals
and engineers pucker
and snore on the veranda.

First published in chapbook, Ghost Moose, Margo Taft Stever, Kattywompus Press, 2019. Forthcoming in Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis.


Photo of the Hudson Valley Writers Center YouTube Video



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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Episode 32: Luisa Kay Reyes


Listen to me and Luisa Kay Reyes discuss how she got into writing, her many other talents such as singing operatic and classical music, playing the piano, and the many languages she speaks.  We also talk about the lost art of letter writing.


         


Changing Dollars
by Luisa Kay Reyes
published in Little Rose Magazine, March, 2019

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As we walked into the empty breezeway of this Spanish Colonial style building that was set off of the main plaza of a rural village in Michoacan, Mexico, the sole gentleman standing there pulled out a very dusty and rickety small wooden table from the back corner along with an equally flimsy small chair and set it out in the middle of the foyer for my father.  Who promptly set his dark colored cloth bag full of Mexican currency on the top of the table. And as soon as I turned around, what had merely a second before been an empty outside corridor styled with the traditional Spanish archways, was now filled with a long line of working men who were eager to change their U.S. Dollars into Mexican pesos.

It was a most exposed way of changing money.  Causing my mother to not unjustly worry about the safety of my brother and me as we were visiting our father during the summer and accompanying him while he conducted his in person money exchanges.  With it being the early 1990s and the use of Western Union, Mejico Express, and other means of electronically transferring money internationally not yet in vogue along with the reticence of the mainstream banks to change dollars in a land where counterfeit movies, music, knock-off purses, and fake sterling silver jewelry could be easily purchased at any weekly street market; there was a great demand for those willing to undergo the inherent dangers and risks of such an enterprise.  And my father happened to be one of them.

With our proud to be an American side of the family comprising of teachers and professors who were highly educated but receiving at best average compensation, the mass quantities of U.S. Dollars being changed into pesos that day were a first for my brother and me.  For we had never beheld so many bills even during our periodic long drawn out Monopoly games. Yet, as the line continued increasing with the men continually bringing their dollars to change, it soon became evident that while the U.S. Dollars flowing through that day would never run out, the Mexican pesos that our father had brought with him for the exchanges - might.

Once the glamour of seeing so many dollars in one place wore off and the day evidenced that it would be a sizeable one, my brother and I ventured out of the breezeway into the village’s central plaza and looked around for what treats we could find to eat.  We were deep in the heart of Mexico in the region that had once housed the mighty Purepecha empire, but with Michoacan being a primarily agricultural state, the current necessities of making a living had commanded many to go up to “el Norte” and figure out how to send their dollars back home.

While every year hundreds of millions and perhaps billions of monarch butterflies migrate up to three-thousand miles from Canada and North America to their winter homes in the oyamel fir trees of Michoacan, over time it became apparent that they weren’t the only entity undergoing such a lengthy journey.  For the next time my brother and I went to visit our father in Michoacan, his money exchange business was now a brick and mortar one with several branches operated by his siblings throughout the area.

“Why doesn’t Mexico just use the dollar as their currency once and for all?”  I asked my father. For it certainly seemed like a much simpler option than this continual hassle of changing money back and forth from dollars to pesos and vice versa.

“Well, that’s what I’ve always said” was his reply.  “But it is better for me that they don’t.”

Then late one night we went to meet with some city officials who were wanting to buy some dollars for the city treasury.  For with the ever present concern of the Mexican peso undergoing further devastating devaluations, even the city was deeming it expedient to have some dollars on hand. And my father’s business was in a position to sell them some dollars at a better price than the banks could offer.    
Now that the money exchanging business was more official with its office in the center of the historic colonial era downtown, lots of money orders, cashier’s checks, and IRS refund checks were coming through the teller windows, as well. Often times they weren’t filled out properly and we would have to draw arrows back and forth between the “pay to” and the purchaser fields. There were also some very wrinkled diminutive peasant women covered in their native shawls among the clientele now who were coming through with thousands of dollars worth of money orders, the result of five or more sons sending their earnings back home. The locals informed us that Michoacan had reached the point to where there were more people from Michoacan living in the U.S. than in Michoacan, itself.  And the rural villages that we used to go to with our father, were now devoid of men. Since all of the able-bodied males from the ages of twelve to fifty were in the United States working. We actually missed getting to explore some of the outlying villages like we’d done before, although, sometimes my brother was able to accompany the security guards to some of the more remote branches.

Why the banks were so hesitant to enter into the money exchange business was a bit mystifying for my brother and me.  Since after seeing so many dollar bills come through, it was quite easy to spot the counterfeit ones. There was just something a little bit off about the swamp green ink color or the thickness of the paper not feeling quite the same.  Yet, one time, my brother took back a counterfeit bill to the States. And after eating at a restaurant, he decided to see if he could get away with using it. Sure enough, the friendly server accepted the bill without question. And fearing that she might receive a reprimand if her boss were apprised of the fact that she had just accepted a counterfeit, I insisted we tell her to bring it back and let us pay with the real money.  

She didn’t want to do so.  She just couldn’t see how the bill was a counterfeit since she swore it looked identical to the real thing.  But, after a while, we convinced her to let us pay with the real money and still a bit puzzled by it all she reluctantly accepted to make the exchange.  Admitting to us that she simply couldn’t tell the difference between it and the real money.

Having more employees in the money exchange business meant there was less for us to do during our summer visits.  So my brother and I got to indulge in a lifestyle barred from us in the USA, that of spending the day in the country clubs and fine dining in the evenings.  Yet one time I decided I wanted to save some of my money to buy a new cd player. A notion for which I was quickly called to task, since my father felt the money he gave us to spend during our visits was for us to have a good time.  So, while I still managed to save back some and make my purchase when we went back to the States, I did learn to spend the money freely. A lesson I learned perhaps too well.

Then one day while I was in college and driving to my local bank in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to deposit my refund check from the U.S. Treasury, I held it up and stared at it in disbelief.  I knew that getting a refund back was far better than owing money and going on an installment plan to make monthly payments to the IRS. But I couldn’t help but stare at its pale yellow background emblazoned with the statue of liberty on it.  Since I was all too familiar with these checks. They were the ones I’d seen the peasants cash back in my father’s business in Mexico. And somehow it had never occurred to me that I would one day receive one of those, as well. But upon glancing at the amount, it occurred to me that I had a lot more work to do before I could match their sums.  And now I understood first-hand where they came from.


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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Episode 31: Kay Fabella


Kay Fabella is a Filipina-American Creative living in Spain.  Listen to her inspiring story about her struggles with depression and how she carved out her space and made her name living her dream abroad, as well as publish her book: "Rewrite Your Story", showing others how to find their voice as they find their way through adversities.  


      

Kay's book cover
Bio:
Just when Kay Fabella was beginning to feel that she’d found her path to success―graduating from college in 3 years, a paying job in the midst of a recession, and a bright future ahead―she was diagnosed with clinical depression.

A lifelong overachiever who started reading at age 2, graduated high school at 16, and college at 19, burnout forced Kay to re-evaluate her own definition of success. She decamped for the support of family in Los Angeles, and began a journey of healing to stay away from meds and hospitals.

Along the way, Kay discovered how to create a life that was aligned with who she was―eventually leading her to create her dream life and business in Spain. The practices that Kay cultivated over the past 10 years to thrive post-burnout and manage her mental health eventually inspired her to write this book.

Rewrite Your Story chronicles how Kay recovered from burnout, and walks you through the practices she herself cultivated to begin to ask what success looked like on her terms… and invites you to do the same for your life.

Today, Kay operates her business as The Story Finder as a Filipina-American expat in Spain. Stories = diversity = inclusion = social change, and it’s Kay’s mission to give underrepresented entrepreneurs a platform to grow their audience by leveraging the power of their stories. She’s been featured in Fast Company, Thrive Global, Huffington Post and Spanish-language newspaper, El País.

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