Ahem. I said I’d have this for you in May. And boy did I push it to the last minute (it’s 10pm on the 31st) but let’s have a drumroll please…. it is my great pleasure to share with you my very first interview with the one and only Kristin Pedemonti!! This is a long post but well worth it, my friends. You well be so glad to read what is shared below.

Kristin is an award-winning, Cause-Focused Storyteller, speaker, author, and presentation skills coach. Currently she also serves as a Storytelling Consultant at the World Bank. She’s an amazing force of creativity and love who never leaves home without a Free Hugs sign or bubbles to share. Check out her recently released book called A Bridge of Story; Risking it All to Connect Classrooms and Cultures in Belize – One Storyteller’s Unexpected Journey.

I was delighted to meet Kristin when she was our Keynote speaker at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless All-Staff meeting. She got up in front of all 500+ of us and gave an amazing talk that made me want to know her better, learn from her, become her friend, and be more like her – all at once. She’s awesome and she agreed to be my first interviewee, and I’m grateful to her for taking time to provide such thoughtful, honest answers to my questions. I’m excited to share her with you, and I hope you go out and support everything she does because she’s a really wonderful human. Enjoy!

Have you ever felt blocked creatively?

Yes! In fact, there was a delay in responding to these questions because of it, ha! But yes, especially when using a lot of creative energy or brain space for other work. For example, there may be less energy or space for my other writing projects when I’m teaching an online intensive presentation skills course at the World Bank.

How do you break through creative blocks?

I’ll meditate, go for a walk or run, listen to music, sing…and I try to be gentle with myself, to simply allow myself space and permission to be blocked.

Do you have advice specific to this issue?

Be kind to yourself. Do something else that feels good: step away, get some exercise, do some coloring, look at things you’ve made in the past and remind yourself-you’ve done it before and have overcome. Trust that the block will end, it always does.

How does art and creativity in general play a role in your life today?

As a Cause-Focused Storyteller, creativity is huge in my life. Storytelling is an art form that I use to build bridges and break stereotypes. It provides me with a way to communicate my heart, soul, and spirit while connecting heart-to-heart with others. Here I can use life experiences to teach compassion and offer healing. I also find great joy in expressing my creativity through my physical appearance. I have a colorful, fun style, from my pink hair to my unicorn leggings. I’m never without little bottles of bubbles and my Free Hugs sign to connect into conversation. Free hugs saved my life.

How do you ‘fill the well’, or nurture yourself and your creativity so you have a wealth of resources within you to draw from when you create?

I read Daily Good every day, and check out super-cute animal videos, especially baby sloths, hedgehogs, and puppies. I seek connection in the form of Burning Man-type events, one-on-one dinners and being with people who are uplifting. Also, I need alone time, to just be quiet, exercise, meditate…and naps!

Do you consider yourself to be in recovery of any sort, and if so what are some tools you’ve learned to apply to get and stay healthy?

I’m successfully managing episodic situational depression. I’m grateful to be in a good space now. In addition to what I mentioned earlier, I’ve found herbal remedies to be helpful, and more effective for me than western medicine. I’m a fan of valerian root and an herbal tincture for better sleep and St. John’s wort for better mood. I am very open about my journey. I ask for support when I need it and try not to isolate. I’m honest about how I feel and I honor my shadow side, instead of trying to hide or deny the darkness. But I’m a joyful person by nature and I let that out as much as possible. I share free hugs and uplifting Facebook posts and I have a special tattoo – “enough”- that reminds me we’re all enough exactly as we are made.

I’m also in recovery for over 20 years of exercise anorexia. I’ve been at a healthy weight for around 12 years, and although I can still have setbacks, I’m very aware of my triggers (STRESS!!). I take care of myself, limit gym time, and a lot of the things I use to take care of my depression help with the anorexia too. Self-care! Yay!

Do you believe in any sort of Higher Power or force at work in your life and/or the world? If so, what’s your relationship with this power? Do you have a spiritual journey?

Hmmmmm, I’d say ‘yes’, though I’m not sure what to call it. My own spiritual journey is one of very open curiosity and as much compassion and understanding as I can offer for the journey of those around me. I have a strained relationship with organized religion. I have seen incredible damage done in the name of religion. At the same time, I think Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and others like them were amazing human beings who shared valuable teachings, much of which boiled down to this: Be kind and treat others the way you want to be treated.

What inspires you? Who or what are your major sources of strength, influence, and support?

There are so many wonderful people, too many to list them all here. There’s Rebecca, a seamstress I met in Ghana who put herself through fashion school and started her own clothing company. And Jennifer, who cofounded This Is My Brave to provide a platform for mental health stories to be shared. On a more public front, I think of Robin Williams for his wit and wisdom and how hard he fought for 6 decades and the Dalai Lama for his kindness and compassion. The list really goes on and on, but I can point to some common factors- big heart, courage, kindness, compassion, wisdom and the ability to encourage others to embody these traits as well.

I’m also inspired by nature, from the Grand Canyon to the Serengeti Plains, from the ocean to the rainforest. I like to be reminded a bit of my place in the grand scheme of it all.

What is your process like when starting something new?

It varies but usually I get an idea, feel super passionate about it, bounce ideas off others. I’ll also sit quietly with it, ponder it a bit, maybe while on a run or during meditation. I may free-flow write about it, or talk it out while driving (even though I risk looking a little crazy to others!). Sometimes I think I go headlong into a new project a bit too quickly, though this has also served me well. For instance, in the case of the Belize project, I went all in without really knowing what I was doing but that worked out because I also didn’t hold any limiting idea about it like “it shouldn’t work”.

What is your current passion project and how do you stay focused to see it through to completion?

Oh my gosh, this brings up what has sometimes been my biggest challenge: too many projects going at the same time. It’s great that there are so many different aspects to what I do but often it all comes together at the same time. For instance, I’m promoting my latest book (A Bridge of Stories; Risking it All to Connect Classrooms and Cultures in Belize). I sold my home and most of my possessions to create this. My book shares the journey and how I facilitated guided teacher trainings to incorporate indigenous cultural legends in schools to teach. I’m working to book more author talks and staff development work shops based on the lesson plan.

I also have a work shop and talk called “We Become the Stories We Consume, Share, and Tell”. Here I share how to be aware of what we take in and believe, to ask how it’s affecting us and the world we live in, how to choose wisely, retell and reframe as necessary to serve, connect, hold compassion, and better understand ourselves and others. The workshop goal is to serve us in creating the most empowering narrative of our lives and our interaction with the world around us. I will present it at Harvard in September!

There’s just so much that I’m excited about. The way I stay motivated and focused is by using my sense of passion and urgency. My dad died at the age of 47. I’m now 49 and sometimes feel as though I might be living on borrowed time. We just don’t know how much time we get to spend here so I always keep pushing ahead.

What’s a huge fear you’ve overcome or are in the process of facing? What’s your experience been like with fear, and what advice could you offer for pushing through, especially when it pops up in the middle of something you’re initially excited about?

I deal with self-doubt, and worrying that I’m not good enough. I think I’ve really let that hold me back, or thinking that I’m not doing enough maybe, that I should be further along in my journey. I make an effort to remind myself of the things I’ve already accomplished, and take a moment to realize that if I could do that, then I can do whatever the next thing is. I’m aware that sometimes my brain doesn’t always tell me the truth, so I’ll be open with the people I love, let them know I’m struggling, ask them to remind me of my value and the good they see in me. This is all a process, it takes practice and there’s no quick fix. I just try to be gentle with myself and remember: I am doing enough, I AM ENOUGH!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, there you have it, folks. What an honor to have Kristin grace this project with her thoughtful words. I’ve provided her links below. Thank you for checking this out, and stay with me, I’ve got another amazing lady lined up for June!

Kristin’s site is here.

She was a finalist in TED Talks 2013 Worldwide Talent Search TEDx Warsaw, check her video here

Here is her Youtube channel!

Buy her book here!

Photo courtesy of Kristin’s FB page

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