All The Wiser

By Kimi Culp

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All The Wiser is a one-for-one podcast that uses the power of personal stories to inspire you to live your life to the fullest. For every story you hear, we donate $2000 to help people in need. 50 interviews. $100,000 donated. From dramatic stories of survival, the realities of life when facing death, and lessons on loss and love, their stories will educate, entertain and inspire.

Episode Date
20. Transgender Pastor Paula Williams and her son, Jonathan, on a father's transition and a son's redemption
01:03:45

Paula Stone Williams knew from a young age that she was transgender, but as a leader in a conservative evangelical religious community, then Paul, avoided transitioning at all costs. Paul's son, Jonathan, followed in his father's footsteps and began a career in ministry, creating a new church under the same organization. Three months into his new job, Paul sat Jonathan down and told him that he was transitioning to a woman. The community backlash was instant, members exited in mass and funding disappeared. But through the reckoning, they forged a new relationship with their faith, each other, and birthed two inclusive churches publicly and intentionally welcoming the LGBTQIA community.


Benefiting Left Hand Church and Forefront Brooklyn

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Jan 08, 2020
Looking back...our gratitude episode. Happy holidays!
00:23:42

Kimi shares some of the most memorable moments from our guests this year, why we decided to take a short break for the month of December and our intentions for the 2019 holiday season. 


Thank you, dear listeners, for all the incredible feedback you've given us about the show since we launched in April. We wouldn't be here without you and we are grateful for every moment of it! Happy Holidays to you and yours. See you in the new year!


Are you following us yet on social? Find us on Instagram and Facebook @allthewiserpodcast. We're also on Twitter at @allthewiserpod


You can also email us at hello@allthewiserpodcast.com


We love hearing from you!

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Nov 27, 2019
19. Tracy Walder is a sorority girl turned CIA counter-terrorism spy
00:49:26

Tracy Walder left behind a childhood of bullying and headed to USC where she studied history and held leadership positions in her sorority. When a recruiter from the CIA invited her for an interview her junior year, the "up-for-anything" bubbly blond jumped at the opportunity. Little did she know a year later, she would be placed in the counter-terrorism center in the weapons of mass destruction unit and regularly attending meetings with President Bush and the head of the CIA George Tenet. She departed for the middle east and by the age of 25 had already learned how to tail people, interrogate suicide bombers and gather life saving intelligence, all while witnessing death and destruction up close. Her career continued to take her to unexpected places where she was challenged at every level. Her message to girls everywhere: don't try to change who you are to fit what you think the job wants you to be.


Episode benefiting Girl Security https://www.girlsecurity.org/


Are you following us yet on social? Find us on Instagram and Facebook @allthewiserpodcast. We're also on Twitter at @allthewiserpod


We love hearing from you!

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Nov 13, 2019
18. Ed Gavagan was stabbed six times and forgave his attackers
00:50:45

Ed Gavigan was walking home one night from the bar where he worked in Manhattan when he was jumped by three kids and stabbed six times in the back, side and neck. Doctors gave him a 2% chance to live. In the hospital he learned that the three kids were gang members looking for someone to kill as part of an initiation for moving up in the gang, and Ed was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But what’s even more remarkable than Ed surviving such a brutal attack is that he forgave his attackers and discovered - against a backdrop of debilitating depression and PTSD - a capacity for empathy he had never known.


Episode benefits Legacy of War https://www.legacyofwarfoundation.com/


Are you following us yet on social? Find us on Instagram and Facebook @allthewiserpodcast. We're also on Twitter at @allthewiserpod


We love hearing from you!

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Oct 30, 2019
17. Khalil Rafati went from homeless drug addict to millionaire health and wellness entrepreneur
00:45:26

In his 20’s Khalil Rafati left his small town with a dream of moving to Los Angeles and becoming famous. But by the time he was 33 he found himself living on LA’s notorious skid row, 109 lbs., homeless, and fueling a daily heroin and cocaine addiction. Today, at 49, Khalil is now a wildly successful entrepreneur and the face of his wellness brand, Sunlife Organics. What is it like to beg for money? Why did he finally get sober after 9 overdoses? The Khalil you will meet today has incredible wisdom and life lessons to share about addiction, the underbelly of recovery, hope and the power of kindness. 


Benefiting the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery India

https://www.tashilhunpo.org/


Are you following us yet on social? Find us on Instagram and Facebook @allthewiserpodcast. We're also on Twitter at @allthewiserpod


How are you enjoying the podcast so far? Email us at hello@allthewiserpodcast.com


We love hearing from you!



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Oct 16, 2019
16. Cassie McKee is a little person and she's happy to answer your questions
00:50:10

Cassie McKee is Kimi's cousin and one of the people Kimi looks up to most in her life (and not just because Cassie is a world class bedazzler). Cassie has a form of dwarfism called Achondroplasia, which her husband and kids have as well. In this episode, she opens up to Kimi about what it's like living as a family of little people in an average sized world, genetics, parenting, and why she has made it her mission to meet strangers' curiosity about her and her family with open, honest dialogue and a warm, friendly smile.  


Are you following us yet on social? Find us on Instagram and Facebook @allthewiserpodcast. We're also on Twitter at @allthewiserpod


Have an incredible story that we MUST hear? Email us at hello@allthewiserpodcast.com


We love hearing from you!

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Oct 02, 2019
15. Jake Olson became the first completely blind Division 1 football player for the USC Trojans
00:56:38

Jake Olson was born with cancer in his left eye and by the age of twelve he was told that his right eye would also need to be removed leaving him completely blind. His last wish of sight was to watch his beloved USC Trojans play football one last time. Few would imagine that years later Jake would become a Division 1 football player himself after being asked to join the Trojans team as a long snapper. Today, he talks about coming of age as a blind boy, how life isn’t fair, that there is always something to be grateful for, and that no matter what you can find a way to do the things you love. 


Benefiting Out of Sight Faith Foundation

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Sep 18, 2019
14. Aaron Stark was almost a school shooter
00:48:38

Aaron Stark grew up in a violently abusive and drug fueled home. By the age of 16 he was overweight, depressed, suicidal, and the victim of endless bullying. His plan was to unleash his pain by becoming a mass shooter, killing dozens and then himself. Now a 40-year-old father and husband, he shares the act that saved his life and countless others that day, and why we have to give love to the people we think deserve it the least because they need it the most. 


Benefiting Samaritan House Denver https://samhousedenver.org/


Follow us on social media on Instagram or Facebook @allthewiserpodcast or on Twitter @allthewiserpod


Have some feedback or a story you'd like to share? Send us an email at hello@allthewiserpodcast.com. We'd love to hear from you!

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Sep 04, 2019
13. David Byrd was brutally attacked by a 12-foot shark and considers himself lucky
00:42:27

25-year-old David Byrd was stand-up paddle boarding with his dad on a family vacation in Hawaii when he was brutally attacked by a 12-foot shark and left an amputee.  He spent months undergoing countless reconstructive surgeries. It's been over a year since the accident and for the first time David is speaking publicly about his memories of the attack, the conversation he had with his dad in the water that day, why he wasn't afraid of dying, and how he considers himself to be incredibly lucky.

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Aug 21, 2019
12. Within six weeks, Nora McInerny miscarried her baby, lost her father, and then her husband to cancer
00:42:29

At 31, Nora McInerny was happily married to a man named Aaron, with a toddler named Ralph and a career in advertising. But in 2014, over the span of 6 weeks, she miscarried her second child, lost her father to cancer and then her husband Aaron to a brain tumor. In this episode, Nora shares, with her trademark honesty and humor, how our Western culture has woefully unprepared us to talk about death, and what to do when someone you know is going through something really, really terrible. 

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Aug 07, 2019
11. Kevin Briggs dissuaded more than 200 people from suicide
00:42:28

Sergeant Kevin Briggs is known by many as the “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge.” An army veteran with no formal suicide prevention training, Kevin Briggs dissuaded more than 200 people from jumping off the bridge over his 23 years with the California Highway Patrol. With a gentle voice and compassionate lens on the world, Kevin shares his experiences working with people who are in tremendous pain and how his innate ability of “listening to understand” has been his greatest tool in encouraging people to come back over the rail onto solid ground. Retired, Briggs is now dedicating his life to promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention across the globe.


Benefitting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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Jul 24, 2019
10. All The Wiser host Kimi Culp kept bipolar disorder a secret for twenty years
00:59:10

Our very own host, Kimi Culp, is interviewed by her friend and former Good Morning America colleague, Holly Gordon about a secret Kimi has kept for over twenty years: her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. In this revealing and highly personal conversation, Kimi describes how she experiences the highs and lows of a manic episode (while balancing a demanding career in journalism!), and why she decided to finally share her secret on All The Wiser. 

Benefiting Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/

 

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Jul 10, 2019
9. Gerardo Lopez was an MS-13 gang member
00:42:33

Gerardo Lopez grew up in gang territory in Los Angeles, CA. At 14, he joined MS-13 a notoriously dangerous international gang. It took 13 seconds for him to be jumped in, but another decade before street crime and juvenile detention centers would be a thing of his past. Today, Gerardo “Clever” Lopez is a gang interventionist and executive director of Homies Unidos, a non-profit that helps at-risk youth avoid making the same mistakes by promoting peace and prevention. 

 

In Today’s Episode:

  • Growing up in “the hood” (04:17) 
  • Locked up. Life in Juvenile Hall (18:29) 
  • The moment Gerardo decides to walk away from his gangster life (22:37)
  • An unexpected helping hand and the power of sharing your story in a room full of strangers. (25:21)
  • Facing 48 years in prison and the day his case was dismissed and a prison guard told him “your free to go.” (35:10)

 

Wise Words:

 

  • “So I ended up getting jumped into the gang, [00:17:30] and when I was getting jumped in the number one thing that I was thinking about, I had already counted down when the carnival was coming into town, when I could walk around that carnival and say that I'm from MS-13, right. To feel that sense of respect, power and pride, if you will.”
  • “Yeah man, they got a green light on you guys.” A green light meaning that they want to go ahead and take your life, they want to go ahead and kill you. Right, so during that time we were all like, man, we thought we would get that respect, power and pride within the gang, now we're starting to feel even more fear, we're feeling even more paranoid because now we just don't have MS-13 after us, now you have all those surrounding gangs after us.” 27:30
  • “Well, you know I did feel that emotion that remorse, especially the pain and suffering that it was causing my family. I remember there was times when there was gunshots in my neighborhood and my mom [00:33:30] would always come running out with her sandals and her nightgown to see if I had got shot.”
  • “And even having sometimes, well a lot of times, cell mates from people from different gangs that we go along with, or just different gangs and you start talking to these people [00:45:00] and their stories are not like the ones from El Salvador, right but their stories consisted of sometimes similar to my stories. They had a loving home, their parents worked two or three jobs, some of them didn't have a loving home, some of them their parents were addicted to drugs. The violence was just here in the neighborhood, a lot of afterschool programs left.”
  • “When we used to play baseball out on these fields [00:45:30] in these juvenile camps, all the gangsters were the best players. I mean they came from, I remember baseball was big back then, but then a lot of times these parks ran out funding or people quit playing baseball, whatever sport they played and went to gang-banging then.”
  • “I remember going to funerals and seeing moms crying and me sitting next to my homie and watching the casket of my homeboy that was right there, and a mom hugging the casket. Even like wanting to wake her son up. Right. And when [00:50:30] he was getting buried, she tried to jump in that hole right there as well, to get buried with him. Right, and I was all like, man homie, and I'm talking to my homie, it was like, "Man that's messed up right? I hope that's not me next time," right. And he's like, "Yeah."”
  • “If I was leaving the gang, if they were going to take that part of my life from me, I was willing to [00:55:30] let go of that part of the life, you have to go ahead and replace it with something else.”
  • “People can change, it is... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Jun 26, 2019
8. Kristen Gray has a score to settle with Batten Disease
00:43:52

Kristen Gray left her job to be a stay at home mom with her two young girls. In 2015, Charlotte (4) and Gwenyth (2) were diagnosed with Batten disease: a fatal disorder that would leave them blind and unable to walk, play or speak. Kristen and her husband were unwilling to accept this fate. With a breathtaking swell of love and support, they raised millions of dollars to fund the first clinical trial and real hope for a cure. Her story is a testament to the power of love (and not taking no for an answer.)

 

In Today’s Episode:

  • A mother’s intuition and stopping at nothing for answers (3:37)
  • The day her 4 year old daughter, Gwenyth, receives the fatal diagnosis (12:23)
  • The call that her youngest daughter, Charlotte, shares the same diagnosis (15:26)
  • A family In search of life saving treatments and hope (31:03)
  • Charlotte and Gwen’s results after the first ever clinical trial (32:17)
  • A mom on a mission builds a school for her daughter and other families as they search  for some sense of normalcy and moments of joy and connection (35:07)

 

Wise Words:

  • “They shut the door and he said, “Your daughter Charlotte has Batten Disease CLN6.  It’s a neurodegenerative brain disease. It’s rare. It’s fatal and there is no cure.  We know one other child that has this diagnosis in India.” He slapped down a pamphlet that gave us more information about the disease and said, “Prepare your home for wheelchairs and kiss your daughter every day.”  Then he said, “By the way, your younger daughter has a 25% chance of having the same diagnosis.” (12:23)
  • “You could go one of two ways, you either bond together and just fight this fight together and support each other or, you grow apart and you both carry on in your own experiences in whatever way that is.” (16:42)
  • “I don’t think Gordon and I ever allowed ourselves to think this was going to be a terminal thing for our girls.  We decided to carry the mindset that we were going to fight this and we were going to overcome it.” (17:19)
  • “You definitely learn to appreciate the small things in life and take each day as a blessing with gratitude.  Everyday, Gordon and I would wake up and wonder what condition Charlotte would be in. Is she going to get out of bed and is she going to walk or is she going to get out of bed and fall.  We really lived each moment as it came and really celebrated the little things that were happening each day.” (20:30)

 

Links Mentioned:

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Jun 12, 2019
7. Bob Woodruff got blown up in Iraq.
00:43:28

After decades of preparation, Bob Woodruff was offered his dream job: the anchor chair at ABC World News Tonight. But less than two months later he was hit by a bomb in Iraq, incurred massive head trauma, and spent 36 days in a coma fighting for his life. When he finally woke up, the famous journalist with a photographic memory could no longer remember the names of his four young children. While Bob eventually regained many of his physical and cognitive abilities, his life and career were forever changed. In this candid and life-affirming conversation, Bob shares his perspective on invisible wounds, unexpected gifts and the joy of rediscovered purpose. 

 

In Today’s Episode:

 

  • Bob starts his dream job: co anchoring World News Tonight and leaves to report on the war in Iraq (7:40)
  • The moment he was hit by a roadside bomb (12:40)
  • Unaware if he is alive or dead  (13:00)
  • What physically happens to your body and head when you are blasted by a bomb (21:40)
  • Are there any stories worth dying for?  (39:10)

 

Wise Words:

 

  • (On Peter Jennings) “He’s the guy that I really wanted to emulate; I think I wanted to be like Peter.” (6:50)
  • “It was never the 36 days that the ones that were painful, it was the years afterwards, certainly the months after.” (19:50)
  • “Once that miracle of survival kinda starts to sweep away, you realize that your life is gonna be completely different and you have to make this transition. (25:10)
  • “You’ve got this gigantic world that you have to find your spot in, you know, your direction in, and that’s a shocking change, and I think that’s the blackness.  I think the blackness that everybody that’s gone through this, goes through.” Now you’ve gotta figure out what you’re gonna be and what you’re gonna do.” (25:55)
  • “I realized that one of the reasons of religion is, I think, to give you comfort about where you’ve gonna spend most of your existence, and I think I had a realization that this is exactly what’s out there.  And you can have all sorts of thoughts about what’s written in the various books and it’s got detains in it that some either believe or don’t believe, but if you really think about it, whoever the prophets may be, what they’re really trying to tell you is that it’s gonna be nice when you go.”  (27:28)
  • “There’s nothing better than friends, you know?  The ones that truly are your friends are the ones that stick with you when you go through suffering, and so those I still have.” (29:15)
  • “I think people they don’t really see what their lives are until sometimes they see something worse.” (37:55)
  • “If you don’t have journalists out there to tell the story, then you might as well get thrown back to the great soviet days.  I’ve been to the countries where in no journalism, and you can tell the impact on the people to not have it.” (39:20)
  • “Make sure that those around you are still there by your side.  That means there’s a lot you’ve got to do make sure they’re next to you.  You can’t just beg for it and you can’t just assume it.” (40:57)

 

 

Links Mentioned:

 

 

 

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May 29, 2019
6. Michel Varisco gets real about caretaking and ALS...(but please don't call her a saint)
00:41:15

Part 2 of 2. Mom, wife and artist Michel Varisco, walks us through the day of her husband Steve Gleason's terminal diagnosis, finding out she was pregnant a month later and what it was like to watch a documentary about her life in a packed theater at Sundance Film Festival. She opens up about the pressure of living up to false expectations, the realities of life as a full time caretaker, their decision to have a second child and how her darkest days inspired her work as an artist.

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May 15, 2019
5. NFL Football Player Steve Gleason lost the ability to walk and talk... and found his purpose
00:37:08

Former NFL football player Steve Gleason founded a charity, Team Gleason, helped create the largest ALS research project in history, has a congressional medal of honor, a law passed in his name and is the star of a Super Bowl commercial and film about his life. Most importantly, he is a proud father of two kids -- Rivers and Gray. Steve accomplished all of the above and more while unable to walk, talk, eat or breath on his own. Steve shared his story with ALL THE WISER while typing with his eyes. He recorded and banked his vocabulary to preserve his authentic voice which you will hear in his candid interview on finding his purpose, the pitfalls of being called a hero, his insecurities, hope for his children and the things he misses most about his life before ALS.

 

In Today’s Episode:

  • Being told he will be dead in 2-3 years (3:58)
  • Losing his ability to walk and talk  (5:54)
  • A day in his life 8 years after being told he would not live (10:02)
  • How to live a meaningful life with ALS (13:52)
  • How ALS affects families (20:27)
  • Why he believes technology saved his life  (22:42)
  • A trip to space and changing the the future of ALS with virtual reality and artificial intelligence  (31:13)

Wise Words:

  • Would I spend all my time left, would I spend the time searching for ways to be cured, or would I try to do whatever I really wanted to check off the bucket list? (4:50)
  • People with nothing left to lose have nowhere to go but up. (9:48)
  • As someone who’s lost most of his physical abilities over the past 20 months, I can tell you that the anticipation of loss is worse than the actual loss itself. (15:06)
  • ALS is a remorseless and humiliating disease.  It can annihilate families. Spouses become unrecognizable to each other, veiled in frustration, anger and shame.  Michel and me included, life begins to unravel into chaos as the person with ALS becomes more reliant on their spouse, and before anyone realizes it, frustration and resentment and shame end up clouding the entire relationship. (20:27)
  • It’s really true for all relationships.  If you can’t communicate honestly and if you can’t have compassion for the other person’s pain, you have no relationship.  But ALS magnifies and intensifies that principle. Michel and I were in the low point. Our breaking point. Fortunately we found a way to thaw the ice, start communicating openly, and understand each other.  Things are very different than before I was diagnosed and we definitely struggle, but we’re in a good place. We communicate well and we’re a tightly forged team. (21:20)
  • I’ve thought a lot about suffering, and I notice it doesn’t matter whether you are poor or wealthy, white or black, talented or untalented.  It doesn’t matter if you have ALS or not. Every human experiences suffering, and some people who have any type of chemical imbalance or mental illness, they suffer mightily to stay positive.  Every human experiences suffering. While I’m not saying we should complain all the time, it’s our most powerful tool as humans to share our pain and vulnerabilities with each other. (27:11)
  • I rarely get caught up in the things that I cannot do.  I suppose that means that I’m either really stubborn or I like to think that if a person can find the way to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, things like walking around or talking far and away is less important to a person if they can feel they are making an impact in other ways. (28:13)

Links Mentioned:

  • Steve’s Charity: http://www.teamgleason.org/
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May 01, 2019
4. Monica Escobedo on loss, love, forgiveness and being the sister of a shooter
00:42:05

Beloved television producer, Monica Escobedo, survived the unthinkable. For the first time, she shares the details of the day she lost her brother, mother and father in a murder-suicide. Monica courageously shares her story of loss, love, intuition and why she chooses to honor her mentally ill brother in spite of his final act. Her strength, honesty and life perspective will leave you astounded and inspired.

In Monica's honor, we are donating $2000 to Give An Hour.

 

In Today’s Episode:

  • Monica’s premonition and trying to find her mom and dad (5:50)
  • Monica learns that her mother has died (6:35)
  • She is told she has lost her father and brother as well (12:05)
  • Learning her brother had been going to target practice (15:37)
  • Forgiving her brother and his final act (19:18)

Wise Words:

  • “If I could advise anyone, trying to counsel a friend going through something. It's say something, even though you don't know what to say, say, “Hey, I'm here for you.” (21:15)
  • “Your life can change in an instant. It really makes me appreciate the moment a bit more. Even if it's a rough day, I try to think about what I'm thankful for.”  (39:08)
  • “I am really self-disciplined. I think when there's no parents to kick your butt or encourage you, that you realize how self-motivated you have to be. But if you keep motivating yourself and putting one front in front of the other ... And maybe I could only do a baby step at first, but eventually, you can reach the top of the mountain.” (38:15)
  • “I am the sister of a shooter. I see how signs can be ignored. I think I had blinders on, and even though I locked my door because I was a little bit scared of him, I didn't really hone in on it. And looking back, I wish that I had kind of focused on it a bit more, and made more of an effort to try to really get some other figure involved, to get him help.” (37:35)

 

Links Mentioned:

  • https://giveanhour.org/

 

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Apr 17, 2019
3. Matt Pohlson flat-lined and had a near death experience that forever changed him
00:37:19

Matt is the co-founder and CEO of Omaze. His company has raised over 130 million dollars for charities by auctioning off once in a lifetime experiences — think a walk-on role in Star Wars or being George Clooney’s date on the Red Carpet! He opens up about what changed everything for him: a near death experience that left him flatlining and in a coma. Matt shares how his mom saved his life, his experience on “the other side” and how he views his relationships and company in an entirely new light.

In honor of Matt's story we are donating $2000 to Folds of Honor.

IN TODAY’S EPISODE
  • Signs that something was wrong (6:50)
  • Flatlining for 5 minutes and his experience on “the other side” (11:33)
  • The machine and doctors that saved his life (21:43)
  • How his mom’s presence and strength as witnessed her son flatline (27:33)
  • Matt finally has a 2nd date with his now girlfriend in his hospital room (33:09)
WISE WORDS
  • They didn't know her son. It was this very spiritual experience for her. She said it was like ... and it just gave her this strength, and so she gathered herself, and she turned back to the table, and she started coaching me. Coaching me back. She said, "Matthew David Pohlson, these people are fighting to save your life. They are fighting so hard to save your life, but you're not fighting hard enough. You gotta fight, Matthew David Pohlson! You gotta show them that you're a fighter! You gotta fight to come back! These people are fighting to save your life." (11:09)

  • And I remember just fighting and fighting and fighting, and just like, it felt like an infinitely long journey.  Then I remember the moment of just like, bursting back into the world, and feeling that feeling of ... oh, my gosh, the journey. I'm here. I'm back. And looking at my mom, and looking at my dad, and then, there's just like, this moment of pure joy. Where I felt connected to everything in the world, all at once. (15:06)

  • I mean, I was gone. All the doctors were saying, I was gone. I was out of that body. Because they said, it's very uncommon, or not very uncommon ... they've never seen someone flatline, and then, open up their eyes, and lift their hand and give a thumbs up. (15:49)

  • "But do you remember what you wrote?" I said, "No." He said, "You wrote, the first thing you wrote was, 'Tell my mom that I fought so hard." (29:57)

  • "Look, before you leave, I want you to understand something. When I finish my career, 30 years from now, and I'm talking about the most extraordinary case I've ever seen, this is gonna be it.” (33:55)

  • I would say everything you want is on the other side of fear. We create these fears so often for our self, that get in the way of so much that we want to do, or people we want to love, or ... but know that, and when you overcome that fear, just know that the love you put out can change people's lives in ways that you may never be able to see, but it matters. (44:10)

     

    LINKS

 

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Apr 03, 2019
2. Christopher Brune-Horan picked up a baby that had nowhere to go
00:59:17

Christopher Brune Horan shares his remarkable journey of fatherhood, the road he walked through fostering to adoption and into the heart-changing experience that is parenthood.

Christopher and his husband, Jesse, decided to marry, start a family and adopt within months of falling in love. Their story starts with a phone call that a little boy has been born to a mother addicted to crystal meth and has nowhere to go. The years that follow are filled with loss and love and, as Christopher shares, a “heart that was broke wide open.” He talks openly about the tragic loss of their infant son, Kaidon, and the courage to love again and foster two young boys they are now in the process of adopting.

Christopher confronts the realities of being a gay, married man on a quest to become a father and imparts the valuable lessons he and Jesse have lived as they bridge the gap of racial divisions and fight for their rights to raise a child. While Christopher’s life experience takes us up and down and ultimately into the belly of grief, he happens to be a Moth story-slam champion, and shares his path to family in the most poetic of ways, leaving us all softened in the light of hope that only the best storytellers can shine.

In Christopher's honor, we are donating $2000 to Inspire Spiritual Community 

IN TODAY’S EPISODE
  • Baby Kaidon is born to a crystal meth addict and has nowhere to go (14:00)
  • Learning his birth mom doesn’t want her son with two gay men (21:40)
  • Kaidon goes from healthy a baby mom to sick in a matter of days (29:11)
  • Kaidon passes from Kawasaki disease (33:19)
  • Christopher and Jesse support his birth mother as she plans his second funeral (38:33)
  • Finding the courage to love again and adopt Victor and Tony (47:20)
WISE WORDS
  • We stopped at a gas station two exists away from the hospital.  Jesse installed the car seat underneath the flourescence of the mobile station.  The next thing I knew, we were meeting what would be our son. (22:03)

  • I remember they told us, “There’s a baby.  He’s being released from the hospital. He has nowhere to go.”  There was something so powerful about that, and I knew that Jesse and I were capable.  I was like, “No matter what, this kid needs help.” (22:29)

  • I was holding him, and I remember this woman said to me, “He isn’t glass,” meaning, the way I was holding him was so fragile.  I was like, “Okay.” That made me realize “Okay. He isn’t glass. Relax a little bit.? We were two men, and we hadn’t had this experience before, but we were in it together.  It was beautiful. (24:42)

  • Right away, in that first meeting, I said to her, I said, “I know you don’t want your son with two gay guys.  Let’s talk about that.” (32:04)

  • I think I said before what they don’t tell you about foster to adopt is if you really want to adopt, there’s this part of you that you need the parent to fail in order for you to be able to adopt.  That didn’t feel good on our part. (33:15)

  • Afterwards, there’s something that happens when a baby dies in a hospital that doesn’t happen when you lose any other loved one, not your spouse or sibling or anyone, a friend.  What happens is afterward, they present your baby to you to hold. I remember very clearly, they very careful, almost ceremoniously wrapped this baby, which was the light of our life, Kaidon, in a hospital blanket, and they presented him to us.  (43:27)
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Apr 03, 2019
1. Matt Long was hit by a 20-ton bus
00:51:49

Matt Long’s extraordinary life story is a lesson in the power of perseverance. The best selling author, motivational speaker and former New York City firefighter has been to the brink and back. TWICE! Matt survived 9/11 and eventually found himself depressed, overweight and turning to booze to heal his emotional wounds. He rebuilt his life and body when he decided to turn things around and become an elite athlete and Iron Man.

Four years later, Matt was hit by a 40,000 Ib. bus on an early morning bike ride to work. His body was nearly severed in half and Long was given a 5% chance to live. Three years and 43 surgeries later, he fought his way back to the finish line of the New York City Marathon and completed another Ironman. Long was named as one of the top 25 fittest men in the the world by Men's Fitness.

Matt shares why he would not take the day of his accident back, the power of mindset and why waking up with intention and the words "I WILL" is the only way to start your day.

In Matt's honor, we are donating $2000 to the I WILL Foundation.

IN TODAY’S EPISODE
  • What it was like to be a fireman on September 11 (14:00)
  • Matt is hit by a 20 ton bus on an early morning bike ride  (22:45)

  • Finding the will to go on - one small step at a time  (34:45)

  • His wisdom and new perspective on life after surviving and thriving after two unthinkable experiences  (46:15) 

WISE WORDS
  • I just, as a fireman, I always pride myself on being so happy to go to work.  There’s not many people in this world that love going to work. Firemen love going to work and weeks, months after 9/11, I didn’t love going to work anymore, and I couldn’t go to work if I wasn’t sipping a beer. My whole outlook on life had changed. (23:14)

  • And the worse damage was, like you said, I was basically cut in half. My right leg they described to me as no longer functionally attached to my body. (37:00)

  • The depression I was having wasn’t a full out pity party, wasn’t a “Why me?” specifically.  “Why did I get hit by this bus?” It was more of, “Why did I live?” (39:30)

     

LINKS

 

For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Apr 03, 2019
Welcome to All The Wiser
00:02:31

Join host Kimi Culp (Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show) on her mission to change the world, one jaw-dropping story at a time, by donating $2000 an episode to charity in this ground-breaking one-for-one podcast. Ready for a little hope and inspiration? Subscribe now and don't miss an episode!

For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Mar 19, 2019