Kimberly Warner: Saying Yes to the Messy, Uncomfortable, Painful Journey of Being Alive (#283)
Our guest today: Kimberly Warner
Kimberly Warner is a film director, producer and editor based in Oregon. After receiving her degree in Pre-Med and Biology at Colorado College and pursuing her Masters degree at National University of Naturopathic Medicine, Kimberly abruptly changed paths and has never looked back. Her work, still founded in a passion for the psychological and social patterns that influence healing, has traded herbs for a camera, prescriptions for storytelling.
Kimberly has written, shot, directed and edited narrative films, webisodes and corporate and non-profit brand videos. She’s written and directed two of her own narrative short films and both have screened at film festivals globally and garnered numerous awards. Her work has also streamed and been distributed on Oregon Public Broadcasting and The Disorder Channel on Amazon devices.
Watch Our Interview
Kimberly Warner: Exploring a Life Unfixed and Rebalanced #unfixedmedia #feisworld – powered by Happy Scribe
Kimberly Warner from Unfixed Media. Welcome, Kim.
I’m so happy to be here. Faye, I know we’ve only spoken a few times, but I just feel like, I don’t know, I feel a kinship with you. So, again, happy to spend an hour with you today.
What a pleasure. I mean, seriously, last time when we got introduced through Moyes and prior to that through BJ, I just had this feeling the moment I saw your Instagram account, I read your stories and the film, all the documentary films you have been producing, I felt that instant connection and respect. Because, frankly, before I produced Faze Role documentary, I had no idea how challenging, how impossible it is to produce films. And I wonder if you feel the same way.
Oh, man, it is so hard. I love it, I love it. I love it. But if you could only well, I should get my husband, who’s a brand designer. He’s upstairs. If he could count the days of tears that he’s seen, of just feeling like nobody cares, nobody’s listening. I mean, it is painstaking work and it always comes down to money. There’s an endless amount of stories, an endless amount of creativity, endless amount of really beautiful human beings who are dying to be heard. That’s not hard. The hard part is getting the powers that we recognize these stories as valuable or something that they can monetize on or whatever. And even within the film world. This last year, how many grants did I apply for? I think I did twelve of the major film grants. And granted, it was in the middle of a pandemic. A lot of grant funding was pulled. I got twelve rejection letters and it’s just and oh my gosh, I have never felt so positive and encouraged. I have so many letters from humans all over the world saying, this work you’re doing is so important, but unfortunately, the people that don’t have the money and aren’t going well, chronic illness is kind of a bummer.
That’s sort of where the stopping point is. And I’m going on here on the.
End, not at all. Think I this conversation is so meaningful and actually very helpful to people who are on that creator journey. Because I joke about saying, if you go on YouTube, there are a lot of popular YouTubers or videos are getting a lot of views. You’re seeing two videos that are weeks apart. The first one is why I quit my nine to five, and the other is why I’m making how I’m making seven figure income last month. And you’re thinking, what happened? All the in between stories. And granted, there are people who have gotten lucky, who worked really hard, hit the right industry at the right time, but it’s also really important about making decisions to do work that are truly meaningful to you. So for people who don’t know your work as well, I’ve linked all your social media, including YouTube, which means people get to watch the documentary series on their own term and time. But just briefly, Kimberly has written, shot, directed, edited narrative films even before this unfixed community or unfixed media series, talking about chronic illness. And also, Kimberly, you were inspired by this series because I have read your own story.
Even though you’re not in front of the camera all the time, you talk about that. I founding practice is it cervical genic vertical that you discovered in 2015, I believe.
Very good. Yeah, very good. Yeah. Surfacogenic was sort of where it was the original diagnosis. Typically, people with vestibular disorders end up with multiple. It’s a complex system somewhere between our ears and our brain, so that is also malded and vestibular migraine, and often these three go together, and there’s different ways we can cope with them. There’s no cure for any of them. So that is what, like you said, that’s what sort of selfishly started me on this journey with the chronic illness docuseries. I needed help. Well, for anybody that’s listening out there, that’s a creative start with what you need to learn, because, boy, this is a journey that I was really just bashing my head up against the wall. I was a fixer. I still am. I mean, I’m a perfectionist. So it’s like, I’ve got a problem, I need to fix it. And I spent two years and upwards of $70,000 trying to fix this problem, and it just kept getting worse. And I got to the point where I thought, I need to learn how to live well with this. I’m going to ruin my life. I need to know that I can be happy and physically miserable at the same time, which just felt like a complete if I can swear, like a complete mindfuck.
How do you feel? Like shit and joyful at the same time.
I do. It feeling like shit sometimes.
Right. And we’re all new, right?
That’s kind of a superpower, because we can it’s so easy to make decisions or make socalled right. Decisions or make decisions easily. When you feel good, when you wake up, everything feels just fine. Some days I’m like, wow, I slept so well. And some days you get out, you’re like, okay, and how do I get through the rest of today but being okay? And like you said, that, I feel like we touched upon a lot of things. I want to kind of break down a little bit, which is the idea of unfixed or what you call rebalanced life that many of us still is like, let’s go back. This is a new normal, which is a new way of approaching life. But could you maybe help me and help us understand how you’re able to kind of overcome that journey of not feeling like this is even your body anymore, that you’re still a young person, and how do you get through? What did you do to kind of not bypass that, but to remedy and remediate that process.
Yeah, that’s a really big journey of mine. The place I return to more and more is discovering that this inner stillness is unconditional and the way to cultivate that inner stillness. For me, I think everyone needs to find whatever that means to them. For some, it’s religion, for some, it’s prayer or meditation. For me, the visual, I’m sure you’ve heard this metaphor, the sky is always blue. There’s weather and clouds and all kinds of things that happen within that, but the sky is unchanging. And so if I can and I do this almost daily when I wake up, because there’s this strange the sensation is that I’m constantly on a boat. Some days the seas are eight foot seas. Some days they’re just gentle lapping, two foot waves. But when I wake up, it’s sort of an assault to my nervous system. So I go to the blue sky and I can hold the experience with stillness. And it’s a shift of awareness, really. It’s just a perceptive thing. At first I thought, well, maybe I’m having sort of a split personality thing, but I really could access this ability to allow the experience to happen.
Let it be, don’t resist it. And in that allowing, there is this holding then, and the holding is still and the holding doesn’t move. Some will call out awareness and whatever, and it’s not like enlightened or anything. This is a daily moment to moment practice for me. Last night I was miserable in tears again. Just because it comes on so hard sometimes and it’s so debilitating. So I’m no Buddha, but I do know that it’s possible. And so to be able to use that in any circumstance in life doesn’t have to be a chronic illness. It can be a challenging marriage or a difficult situation with your child. Whatever it is, there’s this ability to step away from it and watch it and allow it. That creates some inner stillness.
And I mean, you talk about as.
You’Re talking, I try to think through, like, the way especially how I live my everyday or the creator journey. There’s that connection of people feel like there’s a need to be perfect. We’re relatively perfect. And, like, before we started recording, there was work being done in my basement and there was some sound and I was fetching for a headphone. I usually have these things ready, but then it’s interesting, pardon me saying, I got to make sure that when I go live, it’s not very forgivable. Right. Like, there’s going to be background sounds and I want to make sure I have the questions ready, that Kimberly is having the best experience ever. But I think we somehow we think we put too much pressure on ourselves, perhaps, to try to be perfect when there isn’t a need to be perfect, especially when it comes to live stream. We’re living a life in general yeah.
And you know what? The connections happen in the imperfection. I heard this quote yesterday, and this is relevant to what you just said. With chronic illness, we often lose our friends become strangers, and our strangers and strangers become friends. And I believe that happens because when we connect through our chronic illness or whatever through those communities, there’s an imperfection. We allow ourselves to go to the depths of the mess of who we are and instead of kind of presenting ourselves in these polished ways. And that allows for just a deeper connection and conversation. And we don’t have these expectations. We all love to be perfectionist. Like I said, I am still a perfectionist, but I’m realizing that intimacy that I have discovered myself through this journey and through doing this docuseries with others. I have never had the steps of friendships ever in my life. And I think that has everything to do with the fact that we’re just letting it all hang out.
Yeah. And then I want to get right into the docu series. But before that, I forgot to thank you and tell you that you helped me tremendously. I believe middle of June, June 15, that’s when I had my I was moderating for the session I was telling you about. I was really nervous going into this Women’s Leaders Association HR summit. There was an event I was moderating that was estimated to be 50 00, 60 00 live attendees. I was interviewing Steve Wozniak and John Mackey and all those guys, and I mentioned very briefly during our first call, I said, Well, I feel like I’m so quirky. I’m like, so not cool and super smooth sometimes. And you’re like, you know what? You’re totally honest. You said, I kind of like that. I think people like that these days when you’re not perfect, when there is something a little bit funky, maybe even a little bit weird about you, and that becomes kind of part of you, part of your brand that makes you memorable. And I think that’s exactly what hit me. And then you made me kind of helped me imagine and envision myself as being imperfectly, perfect for the event and to be able to connect all these mostly women who called into this massive zoom webinar.
And I was at the same level. I didn’t look down on myself as comparing to these people with certain assets, certain reputation. I felt like I was talking to my friends. So thank you for that. That went super well, and I’ve done that.
You were fantastic. And I bet they’re all looking at you like, man, she’s so good at this.
You are probably thinking, wow, she really knows what’s going on. Our self perception versus the, you know, others. It’s just this really interesting, I don’t know, interplay of our life for some reason. But let’s talk about the documentary series. So you’ve interviewed people with I don’t want to call it anybody with mild chronic illness. A lot of them have pretty serious situation and illness that they’re dealing with. I even saw one gentleman with ALS. I’ve seen stories of people with stage four cancer who used to be end of life clinicians themselves. And, wow, that is really challenging. Let’s see, how do we break this down even? What are some of the stories that come to mind? Maybe recent stories or something that kind of hit you, you like to share with people who are about to go watch the series?
Well, actually, the latest video that we did together was based on a question that I actually used to work with young adults who had lost parents. They had had death of a Parent, and we did a theater troupe together. And these young adults wanted to ask the question, would you give up everything you’ve learned since that person has died in order to have them back again? And during rehearsals, they’d go back and forth. I’m like yes. No, of course, I’d love to see my dad. But it was a really interesting question. And actually, in the theater performance, none of them decided to say yes. They wanted to preserve the depth of character and the lessons and the wisdom that they gained. So I flipped the question around with this community in the Docuseries. And we said, would you give up everything that you’ve learned since you’ve been diagnosed in order to be fully, forever cured? And, oh, my gosh, the question, the answers that we got. So for those of you who don’t know, this has started during the pandemic. And I’m not going around with a crew and cameras. They’re just turning their smartphones onto themselves.
And we had I mean, the majority of the people said, no, I would not give it up. And I celebrate all the answers. I’m not saying like, okay, yay, we’re in this camp. I’m saying no for today. Ask me tomorrow. And I might say yes. Hell yes. Dylan the gentleman with ALS said to have my voice back, to be able to feed through my mouth and not a tube, to be able to be mobile, to know that I have decades of life ahead. He was six years graduated as a physician, right as upon his diagnosis. So he had just done six years of training, preparing himself to care for others in his lifetime, and then was diagnosed. So he said, on a superficial level, absolutely I would trade this sort of intangible lesson that I’ve gained from being diagnosed with this for all of these other things that I’ve lost. Of course I would. But he goes on to say, however, all of those intangible lessons are what make us who we are. And if we are to actually look at, like, what a soul is, our souls are constantly being chiseled away at and sculpted upon through the circumstances of our lives and what we glean from those circumstances.
So basically he said if you were to really rephrase the question, it’s would I be willing to give up my soul, not have this chronic illness? And he said, of course not. Goosebump material.
Wow. And I imagine when you’re having this conversation and I don’t know which stage Dylan is in with ALS, was he able to speak? He mentioned he wasn’t at this point. So was it through a computer kind of virtually generated speech he speaks through.
It’S a motion imotion tracking device. So we actually use rev. I have an app on my phone. He types out his answer using his eyes and spends a couple of days typing out his answer. And then I’ll call him, meaning he’s not going to pick up the phone and go, Hagen. It’s like this automated hello, are you ready for me? And then I click record and he clicks play on his device. And his sort of AI voice, it’s not his voice reads what he wrote. So I don’t know what his voice sounds like. When we started this, he didn’t have his voice. It’s been very progressive. ALS and diagnosed in 2018.
Oh, wow, that feels so soon. ALS is one of the, I would say the chronic illness that really hits me. Not because of the ice water bucket challenge that alone, but to watch documentaries. It’s one of those films and stories that always makes me cry and makes me look very deeply inside myself to realize what frustrates us seems really insignificant. Even though sometimes that’s not necessarily what these films trying to convey. Right. It’s about respecting and having giving voice to the voiceless, which is so much of what you’re doing. And I’m just out of curiosity, when you are talking and communicating with Dylan’s through digital voice in general, were you able to you know, some of those sound a little robotic. And part of me is thinking like I interviewed Mike Abeline from Not Impossible who worked on this extensive, huge project for an Alex patient. It’s related to eye writer. So I want to send some of his work your way shortly. But how was did you get a sense of his emotions? Like, if you were to design or redesign the voice system or the I writer, what would it be, I wonder, for you as a filmmaker?
Everything is so visceral to you, for you to connect with people. Were you able to connect with him where you feel very differently when connecting with him?
That’s an interesting thought. You know, we had the actual great fortune prepandemic. We started filming the documentary. So I actually was in his space for three separate film sessions. He’s got the most radiant blue eyes and his eyes are still it’s like, boy, the windows to the soul. I mean, nothing else is moving, but those eyes are speaking everything. So we had some really tight shots really close up. I felt like actually more of him was present if that makes any sense. I feel such a deep heart. I mean, the whole room was crying at one point. It’s not just me. Like, Dylan transcends all of the disabilities, and it doesn’t just come through his eyes, it comes through his skin. I’m going to start right now. I was just thinking about it. He is just magnificent human being. And I wouldn’t change his voice because this is the voice he has now, and he cherishes it. He cherishes that he has an ability to still share with the world if that were taken away from him. He has more or less said he doesn’t want he has his advanced directive. If he loses the ability to use his eyes, cut him off, because this is his way to express himself in this world.
Right. Yeah. It’s quite profound how much a human being can convey with so little.
Maybe the moment you start talking, it made all the sense to me as well. And sorry about this echo that I’m creating.
Possibly I don’t hear it perfect.
And the moment you start describing the situation, it just made so much sense that I realized when I was able to when I’m able to make more connections with people, oftentimes it’s not through words. And I even dare to say that words are often distractions to how you connect with certain people. And I also noticed in my journey as a content creator in 2014, interviewing a really big variety of people, I noticed how much more connected I am with people when they’re accepting warm, something very visceral happening that’s completely bypassed their speech. The way they even carry themselves from, like, an outfit perspective. Some people are like, oh, they’re just stunning. They’re really good looking, and therefore, you know, you’re kind of drawn to them. But then, for some reason, I feel like ever since I started the journey of actually listening intently for my podcast, I learned so much about that person, even though podcast feels like very audio centric. But at the same time, I realized a lot of what I was able to take in actually had nothing to do with audio.
You know, you’re making me think, Shay, because when I got into filmmaking, I was a photographer before I did film, like a lot of people. And I became kind of obsessed with the still frame as telling a story. I was, you know, Gregory crudeson and these, like, quirky, kind of Hitchcockian type of like, what’s happening in that snapshot right there? And so that’s sort of what propelled me into getting more into the filmic realm. But even then, it was I was so drawn to the aesthetic. I mean, to a fault. I think my first couple of films, they’re beautiful, but they’re just almost like, where’s the story, the attention to the detail, everything was storyboarded out to the tea. And I love that. But it’s been a journey for me to be where I am now where I’m not even having control over the setting. People are shooting from their own living zoom on their own smartphones. Many of them, you know, they don’t know there’s dirty laundry in the background. They haven’t brushed their hair. You know, none of that aesthetic is being taken care of, but the content is just like above and beyond anything that I ever could have controlled before.
So anyway, yeah, you just kind of made me think of like, wow, that’s the trajectory that for me in my personal journey as a filmmaker, I guess that’s what I’ve been I’ve been seeking truth. And now, thanks to the pandemic, we don’t even have film crews in these people’s homes. They’re just turning on their phones and talking. So what could be more true than that?
Isn’t that crazy when you come from this background you just described for people who don’t know, I mean, storyboarding and this whole process could take months or even years budgeting and having to make sure that you get everything, every broll and a huge crew. What you see on screen is barely like 2% of the actual production that goes into it. And here we are. A lot of people who are very uncomfortable in front of the camera or I notice even some of the late night show hosts will be literally in their living zoom with a very mediocre background and audio quality are now for about a year they were hosting these shows from their living rooms where there are platts and hairs are perfect and it’s eyeopening and people are peeve. Some people I know, maybe not everybody. A lot of people seem to really enjoy it.
Yeah, I think maybe as a culture well, I think the next Gen Z, I think they’re wanting more truth. They’re wanting more truth from brands. I hear that from my husband all the time in his brand work. It’s a generation that wants transparency. They want truth. They want value. Not like monetary value, but moral value. And so maybe we’re just as a collective moving more in the direction. Yeah, I’m always going to love, you know, handmade tales. Incredible. And the cinematography just blows my mind and I’m obsessed with it. So I can never fully get rid of my love of setting the stage beautifully too.
I would love to explore, you know, what inspires you. But before we talk about like, you know, this is a little more rainbow type of content, I want to kind of dive in a little deeper to acknowledge and address people’s fear when they don’t click on, when they choose not to engage with people with disabilities, with chronic illness. Not just people in person, but I mean, like, content out there is for me recently working on the Disability project for unable disabled, working with BJ, I have to say. And also there’s another project called Childhood Cancer Hall of Champions, giving some shout out to these projects, but a lot of people are like, I realized that when I was posting them. Sometimes people are like, that’s nice, but you know, they’re not going to subscribe. They would choose not to engage. Not everybody. But I like when people are being honest to say, look, I have enough problems in my life and I am a fearful person, and this makes me concerned. This I fear what a reality could bring. And working on another medical project recently, just even on the what is type of cancer, I remember that she just went on, even just breast cancer alone.
The list is like the types of breast cancer just like, went on for miles, I’m thinking. And then last night, this is just cancer alone. Last night, I remember looking, it says about 39.8% of all human beings at one point in their life will be diagnosed. That’s almost one in two people. So that’s reality. Not necessarily. Everybody will be diagnosed at stage four, wherever get there before they pass. But it’s still something really serious. A lot of that has to do with old age. We live a lot longer than this too. So I guess there’s a long way of saying maybe we don’t know the answer, but what is the reason or how do we approach people with this type of projects in general? Because I know that they give me a tremendous amount of joy. Yes.
I’m so glad that you asked this question. This is the reason why I got twelve rejection letters from the grant. They’re not saying that everyone just is like, I don’t want to hear it. But they have to listen to what audiences out there want to watch. And I do. I even have family members who have said, I love what you’re doing, but it makes me so sad. But I followed that conversation with one of my family members and said, well, what makes you so sad? And she said, Well, I haven’t even watched it. And I’m like, just do me the favor of spending ten minutes to watch it and then let me know after those ten minutes if you still feel sad. The concept of it is what’s sad? But when she really gave herself that moment to go into it, she came out and said, I get it. I feel so uplifted. I feel so proud to be a human being. And it’s a collective thing. We’re not unfixed. Originally, sure, it started with chronic illness, but it’s not exclusive. We’re all unfixed. We’re all going to die. People in California’s, houses are burning down.
People in Germany are drowning from floods. There are things we cannot control in life. Unless you’re superhuman, there’s going to be something in your life between zero and 90 that you cannot fix. So, I mean, my goal, my hope, is that the next podcast season, if I can get funding, will be inviting two people to come together. One with chronic illness, and one with another completely unrelated, unfixed event in their lives and start to have these mashup conversations so that we can see that this is not about these people over here. This is about the human plight. So there’s something not just for us to learn because, yes, there are tools that we can all walk away from these videos and these podcasts to learn from, but we can feel a solidarity.
Yeah. I want to add to that. And I’m so glad that you chase and follow that conversation. Because as hard as it can be sometimes. I remember in the past few years. I know a couple of people who really believed in Trump. And instead of saying. I can’t be friends with you anymore. I actually did follow with some of the conversations. And some of those didn’t go well. Some are trying to convince me, let me teach you about politics. And this is why it’s right. It’s funny. I don’t even talk about politics. But there is a mystery of how people with chronic illness and disabilities actually live their life compared to the so called the abled body community, because I am utterly shocked by it myself. So an example would be, you know, Gustav and I recently interviewed a gentleman, Ryan, who is quadriplegic, and so is paralyzed from the neck down. And he joined the interview with, I think, a combination of eye writer, and he was basically moving some of the devices with his mouth. And I don’t know what he was doing exactly, but he was able to call into the Zoom meeting.
He was able to amuse himself, turn video on and off more quickly than my regular guests. And in fact, that same day, there was something totally hit me. I have a couple of friends, you know, we’re trying to, like, you know, these days hangouts and maybe grab brunch or lunch every once in a while these days, and you often hear, like, oh, I’m not feeling really well. I can go, or last minute changes and meanwhile, or where people can’t get any stuff done, it’s like, I’m just feeling down today, right? Meanwhile, Ryan, who is quadriplegic, said, okay, I got 45 minutes left for the podcast. After that, I’m going to go to the beach, and I have three meetings after this, so let’s keep moving here. He’s not the only one. In fact, we interviewed we ended up interviewing, I believe, two to three quadriplegic people who identify with this type of disability, and all of them were able to follow our calendly link and schedule their interview, I believe, within five minutes of me sending the email. And meanwhile, my regular guests are like, so you click on the link. I have trouble with my photo, and I don’t know what to do.
It’s crazy. And our friend Gustav, who is born with PFFD, which means his right arm, his legs are not fully developed. And guess what? This gentleman. Coaches basketball, is going to compete in Masters swimming competitions and plays tennis about 2 hours at a time. Yeah, that’s a reality, guys.
Yeah, problem solvers. People with chronic illness are problem solvers. And just to add to that, though, so I can speak to the other side of chronic illness, there’s also there’s so many different systems in the body that can break down or get confused. And so I’m in the invisible illness category. And so while we may look good, we also are those ones that have to cancel last minute because suddenly the room is spinning and you know, we can’t get out of bed and it’s not because we don’t want to, but we literally cannot focus our eyeballs or the fog in our head is so thick that we can’t remember what we were supposed to do that day. So there is this incredible resiliency and ability to problem solve and just get shit done. And there’s also this tremendous vulnerability of our will, wants to do everything, but our bodies are saying can’t do it. So I’m working on a miniseries right now for an organization and we’ve cast nine Baird disorder patients. So people with chronic balance issues. And so it hits home to me and all of them are invisible. They all look like there’s one woman, she’s Colombian and she’s an incredible artist, beautiful artist.
And she said, just in her latest submission, she said, you know, if we’re not in a hospital bed, I think we’re lying. Because if she gets up and she works at an ad agency, she’s beautiful, she wears her great outfits and then she comes home and crashes. And she doesn’t want to give up that life, but she’s giving up so much more of who she is and her relationships after friendships, all of that, because it’s overwhelming what she endures in her head. Another woman, she was a BBC journalist through Paul, she said it really well. She said it’s like my leg got cut off but nobody could see it. So anyway, I just wanted to give that I was thinking about it too in your podcast with Gustavo, because there’s two sides to this. There’s man, I mean, I don’t know, I’m not in a wheelchair, so I can’t express what that experience is like. But there is something when people can see what you’re enduring and what you’re struggling with that is helpful sometimes. Because when you can’t see it like, well, do I tell somebody right now that the room is spinning or do I just slowly back this conversation up against the wall so I can press my elbow on it and continue this conversation without them knowing?
Yeah, the invisible disability or how our body also treat us is really, really hard, I think. And in recent years I learned a lot about the fact, you know, make me reflect on my own actions and behaviors. When I was younger, being in my 30s now, towards my late thirty s. And I get to know so many women who don’t have children and sitting at brunch tables and people are saying, so you guys just want to live your single life, right? So you just don’t want any responsibility. You don’t really like children, do you? These things come up all the time. And what people don’t realize is there’s so many women out there, not only just with miscarriages, but also we can’t have kids. There are a lot of unexplained infertility so many unexplained meaning doctors cannot pinpoint there’s anything wrong with a part of your body. And I went to explore in these communities and realized how just helpless these women, how shameful they felt like even the word shame was associated with such conversation. Well, nobody, not even doctors, can pimp on the origin or what was wrong and then go through rounds and rounds of IVFs at a risk of developing cancer or something that could be really bad happening to their bodies.
So I think it’s so worth pointing it out. So I wonder what should people do in this case, right? Should people then just voice themselves maybe with the people they trust, their close family and friends? Is there a way to maybe bring it up without, I don’t know, like, productively, have a conversation and to make their lives easier as opposed to hiding or feel ashamed for the chronic illness otherwise?
I’m learning that from this doing this miniseries right now. I didn’t do that. I isolated, I lost some friends. I mean, they stuck it out. They kind of go from like concern to then pity, and then they’re like, you’re still dealing with this a month later, a year later, two years later, and then they just start to fall away. And it’s not their fault. I get it. They’re like, what the hell is going on with this person? And some people will probably just fall away anyway. But I think transparency and honesty up front. Educating. We have this lovely young man who’s from India, who he just started pulling out documents on Google and YouTube and just sending it to his family and friends and saying, look, this is not in my head. Like educating people, bringing them to your doctor’s appointments, bringing your loved ones, those kind of things I’m learning now to do. But it’s hard because we don’t want to be associated with it. There’s just such a balance. When you go to a party, you’re not like, hey buddy, the room is spinning. When is it ever appropriate?
Right? Yeah, I think so. I think there is that line of people who truly love us, really care for us. They will come through if they choose to, but if people choose not to, it’s also their choice. I think sometimes we just have to make it a little bit more clear and be more upfront sooner than later. And I know it’s easier said than done but for people who are watching this, I think it might feel risky, but sometimes it’s just like I almost feel like it’s the same as going out to be a freelancer, leaving your full time job. What seems really steady and secure may just be a facade, and it’s maybe better to talk about it. And I didn’t even address the fact that when you mentioned advanced directives is something I learned as well recently. And also, I think it’s never too soon or too early to find your healthcare proxy to actually have these conversations. Don’t just assume that this is going to be your body forever. And there are moments that might happen when you have no time to prepare for it. There’s no time for you to find proxy form, advance directive form, and make those decisions.
So choosing someone to do that, and it’s still naturally for you, kimberly, because you’re so familiar with this world. But for a lot of people, that is just so new and unthinkable to them.
There’s a woman in seattle gosh, I wish I could remember. She had a really clever name. She started throwing parties to get people to do their advanced directives, and literally, they’d be like, it was such a clever name, too. But it was just like, come and drink wine together, and you didn’t have to be all be friends. It was literally like something you’d sign up for. There’d be a lawyer there. There’d be someone who can answer all your questions. There’d be the paperwork, lots of pens, and people would walk away with new friends, a nice buzz, and all their paperwork done. Wow.
Oh, my goodness. That is amazing. Wow. So I want to kind of pivot a little bit, and there’s some fun areas that when you mentioned people with chronic illness are problem solvers, I love that because I feel the same way. Being an immigrant, you can’t find any jobs if you without a us. Citizenship or green card you won’t get until 15 years later. What do you do? And mom being here, she has her chronic illness to deal with, and we’re getting used to that, and I try to help her find health physical therapists and all that stuff. So I would love for you to share with us maybe things people can relate to right away. Do you meditate? Are there certain shops or even products? And none of this is sponsored? Obviously, that gives you peace of mind that helps you get through the day a little bit easier.
Okay, well, I’ll show you one right now.
You can exchange.
I can share something I’m standing on here because standing is easier for me because of the motion that I feel in my head. So if I’m sitting still, I’m at my worst. Sitting still is so hard for me because I feel the sensation. So anytime I can distract my brain and create more proprioception, it helps. So this foam pad it’s about two inches thick.
You feature you alright.
And I stand on this thing all day long and it allows I’m constantly moving my knees, I’m constantly shifting my weight. I do alternate to cutting a chopping block so that my brain doesn’t get so used to this comfy squishy thing that I can’t adapt to the rest of the world. So I alternate a little bit. But that is for anybody that has proprioceptive balance issues or vestibular problems, that thing is a lifesaver for me. Probably not super relatable to everybody. The other thing, breathing techniques. I have my breath work. App. Every hour I hear my phone go and it just gives me that extra reminder that you can go into it and say, I want five minutes of stress relief. I need my brain to work better, whatever that is. I’ll go in often and use that to just remind myself to breathe. How I can get lost in an edit. I don’t have to hold my breath for 20 minutes. So breathing is really, really important.
You know the name of the app by chance?
I think it’s breath work. Let me just pull it up here. Yep. It’s cute too. It has like fun little pictures with it. And it has you can have auditory cues with it.
So breath work wrk, right? Breath work.
Yeah. This is what it looks the home screen.
Okay. With like colors. So breath work works. W-R-K. Breathwork is one word for anxiety. Sleeve energy. Looks really cool.
I like that. And literally, who doesn’t have three minutes if you can see that? Three minutes to breathe?
So even if you only have 1.
Minute to breathe, yeah, that makes a huge difference. And the same thing with people with Apple Watch too. It comes built in with oh no, you can take grief for 1 minute, three minutes or five minutes. And it’s funny because my mom actually is one of the few people who will learn. She’s going to walk in and she thinks she will not be seen, but she will be seen in the livestream. And she actually follows like sometimes five minutes. And the magic thing that happens is after five to ten minutes, she actually falls asleep on the beanBack somewhere in this house and she feels super relaxed.
That’s so awesome. She comes in. Hi, mom.
Exactly. She just very serious. But yeah, I love the funny things. People don’t really talk about or get to see these things. But I have my chair. I’m standing right now. My standing desk is maybe this one is like about $200. And I just keep every day, like every other hour or so, I’ll be sitting, I’ll be standing. I have a little Lombard support, maybe just rest. I have this pad that I sit on every once in a while, I do switch it up. And then I was going to say, I don’t know whether you’re into peppermint or inhalers in general. So these things are really cool.
Oh, I forgot to bring your screen back. Let me see.
These are very oh, I was pointing at the wrong camera. But what’s interesting why is it so blurry? These are like peppermint inhalers. I’m going to leave some of the links. Yeah, there’s so many of them online on Amazon and you can just get them. There’s another one called Sage, I think, S-A-J-E. It’s all organic, but it is a very mild scent. Whereas this one from Thailand. They’re strong. Literally. Like when I feel a little dizzy. I may want to sense these to you.
Even my neurologist says peppermint is good for vestibular migraine. So we need my whole cast in the miniseries needs to know what that product is.
Oh my god. So great. We can get them on Ebay, I think on Amazon as well. They’re shipped from Thailand and they’re super strong. They’re rollers. These are inhalers and also rollers that you can put in your temples. And you’ve got to find ways to find something that works for you and not even for me. Perhaps I don’t qualify to be on your podcast or anything. I don’t have a chronic illness that is severe or anything. But still, as we age, I feel like back pain, neck pain, migraines are coming on site and it’s so easy to push aside as a whole. This has nothing to do with me. I’m just going to ignore it. It actually gets worse. So yoga stretches in the morning, in the afternoon, daily walks help me tremendously.
Yeah, hiking for sure. I have this also migraine blocking glasses. I don’t know if you’ve heard of these ugly things. There’s also if you really want to go for it, you probably can’t see the green tinted.
Oh, no way. I only have these for like yeah.
This color does something to the brain and it lowers or raises the migraine threshold. If you use that outdoors, you can wear them whenever. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes wear them on the screen. The screen is kind of like the biggest trigger for me. So it depends on what kind of day I’m having. But I have all kinds of little migraine reducing devices. But if I had none of that, the gear, the gadgets, sniffing trees, taking breaks, regular breaks, going outside and just purging the thoughts of the day and being surrounded by wild things, that is the best medicine.
And you live in Oregon currently, is that correct?
Yeah, we moved thanks to the whole busyness. And when that all started, we were right downtown Portland. And I just it was miserable. The garbage trucks, it’s called hyperacus. Often people, when they start these developing these disorders, like the sound of my husband clearing his throat was like forks in my ears. Everything is amplified. So as you can imagine, living in the city was just like nightmare. Yeah. So we sold our house. And first we moved to our favorite little town in Oregon called Manzanita. It’s on the Oregon coast, population 700. And we lived there for a year in my friend’s Airbnb. She just rented it, did a long term rental for us. We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know where the hell we were going to go. But we just we needed to get away. And we lived on this sleepy coastal town and commuted into Portland. I was in the horrible stages of this, so I wasn’t working at all. I couldn’t even look at a screen. So I started needle felting. Have you heard of needle felting?
No, what is that?
I became obsessed with it. It’s bold. I don’t know if you can kind.
Of see it’s so cute, these shapes.
Yeah, it’s basically a process of taking big lumps of wool and needles, and you poke it and agitate the wool enough that it becomes really solid and stiff. And you do that a couple thousand times, and you can create little shapes, and then you sculpt with it. So this is all just all just bold. There’s nothing there’s no form inside. I started to do this whole wrinkled cat series. So you can kind of see the wrinkles.
You made this? Yeah.
I mean, that’s all I did. I literally could not look at a screen for two years. So I did this whole series of wrinkled cats. Hairless cats.
It saved my life. Really?
This is so cool.
But I see some commissions with them. But it was like, it takes me months and months to do those. So it’s like, what do you charge? We can’t sell these things, but they’re all over the house. But it saved my life. And that’s actually something for the creatives that are listening to this. When life throws a shit storm at you, we still need to create. I just can’t watch Netflix all day. I need to feel a purpose, and it doesn’t have to be my purpose. Became making hairless cats. It’s like the most absurd thing in the world, but it got me out of bed every day, and it made me feel distracted. My brain from the sensation, it gave me meaning for a while. And I think when you have that gene, the creative gene, you just have to constantly be making something. So they really were. They saved my life.
I can still relate to that, and I think a lot of people can. And to find I think when you are able to create something, even that’s not the thing that you’re used to creating or the thing you create to make a lot of money, to make yourself, your family proud, you got to be creating something. And that looked phenomenal. I could never imagine you can make that out of wool.
If you have any sort of obsessive compulsive tendencies, it’s super fun. If you don’t, then you’ll just be annoyed within five minutes because literally, this is what you do for hours.
We all have to find something that works for us, right? And not every day. For a creator, it needs to be the same. We talk about productivity and all these videos rank super high on YouTube, but at the end of the day, are you really going to be in that mode of creating? When I created YouTuber kits, I was literally 40 documents worked on for a month on end every day. Right? Like, I feel like not typing enough, not doing enough, and this is not done. But then after that, you almost need a recovery phase or something more mindless to do, and that’s actually really healthy, as opposed to thinking I’m not being productive. Like, how do I go back to that stage? I think everything, our life and our body also kind of ebb and flow in a really beautiful way. I mean, I’ve taken up your 1 hour already, but I have some friends who messaged me to talk about your beauty routine. Everything we talked about has nothing to do with why we need to look perfect to look really good. But I do love the fact that even though you’re saying you’re not feeling necessarily your best today, that your skin is clear, your hair is like, nice and soft, and you don’t ever put on so much makeup.
Do you have a routine at all?
I have a really oily skin, so thanks, Grandma, for that. But actually I have been cleansing with oil for probably 15 years. So oil I don’t believe in soaps on my skin cleanse with oil. It’s not like safflower oil is actually like a facial cleansing oil, but I think that cleansing the oil is so nourishing, I did go through when I was in my teenage years, I had pimples and puberty, all that stuff, and I was just taking all of that off of my skin. I thought it was like the enemy. It just made things worse. So I use glycolic acid like there’s no tomorrow. I love glycolic acid and that just fluffs off the top layers of skin. It doesn’t sting. I don’t even know what the percentage is. I think it’s small. Tuell T-U-E-L is the brand that I use. It’s just clear and it helps everything else just go in to your skin. Other than that, those are my two main things. Like, you got to cleanse your skin with oil and then you got to strip all that dead shit off. And I do glycolic in the morning, I do glycolic in the evening.
I just put it underneath everything.
I have not I mean, I tried oil and it’s been I think it’s true. Like, I had pretty bad acid reflux for several years in my early thirtys, and I didn’t realize that so much of it has to do with not having enough acid in your stomach as opposed to I don’t know, it’s just really weird chemistry of maybe producing too much, but actually a lot of it’s producing too little. And same thing when you have oily skin. A lot of the time, actually, you don’t want to use these, like, tea tree oil to kind of strip away the oil you actually need to nourish your skin even more. I love how counterintuitive and helpful that is.
Totally. The other thing I learned, and this is from watching my aunt no, not Cher, my Aunt Chris as a kid, she had these gorgeous lashes, just like lashes for miles. And I remember I go into the bathroom when she was getting ready in the morning because I thought she was so beautiful. And she would put Vaseline, which I’m not so bad, but she would put Vaseline on her lashes. That way she never wore mascara. She was just like this petroleum product all over. She even kind of rub it in a little bit. So her lids were shiny. So early on, I started using chapstick, my lashes, because mascara anyway, it just always gets all over my face. I think you get oily skin anyway. So chapstick on your eyelashes is number one. I mean, because they never break. They never break. They’re just constantly got this layer of lube on them.
That’s it. You don’t even put anything else.
I don’t have any mascara on right now. You can’t really see anything, right?
But just chapstick, chapstick, chapstick. You don’t even apply it. You literally just use chapstick.
You don’t even have to do it.
Oh, my God. Keep going, please. Do you use anything else to prime your face? I know we’re all at home most of the time. I mean, any other tips? Like, I don’t know. That’s it.
I’m trying to think, what did I do this morning? I mean, cold water. Splash my face with cold water. I put the Glycolic on, and then I put my lotion on, and then I do the chapstick. I mean, now I do chapstick on my eyebrows, too, just because I feel like if it works.
Oh, my God. I remember years ago that my big fat Greek wedding. It’s like this guy, the dad running around with Windx and trying to fix everything with Windex. I think you should have your chapsticks. That could be your breakthrough YouTube video. Seriously, how my beauty routine. And I think all the chapstick companies going to come after you, and those videos will have like 3 million views.
Totally. That’s so true. Oh, my God. And I could use a whole drawer full of chapstick because I go through it so fast.
Oh, they send you hundreds. No eyeliner or eye shadows or anything. Oh, my goodness.
I’m not at that stuff. I’m not good at it. The stuff I have in my I have it, and it’s probably the size of stuff that I have is super tiny. And it’s been in there for probably 25 years. I’m a bit of a farm girl. I grew up in Wisconsin. I don’t know. I don’t know why. I’m just a little bit awkward and stupid, and I love it when people do it well. But I also think I have one of those faces that doesn’t look good with it. I just put a little bit of eyeliner on and I just look weird, I think. So I never got into it.
That is so funny. Oh, my God. I cannot get over this traffic situation. It holds everything in place. I mean, not to make fun of the situation, but you notice all the supermodels when they tell all the supermodels, including Victoria Secret, you always hear everybody, I grew up on a farm. I’m like, Why are all the supermodels? Maybe there’s something to it. Maybe because everybody learned when they were little to use Vaseline and, like, chatting them.
It might be that. Or they grew up drinking giant glass of milk in the morning. There is something to be said about that wholesome lifestyle. I lived in New York City, an undergrad for a summer. I was there on a grant, studying urban ethnobotany, of all things, and I felt so gross. I remember I was in college in Colorado, so still, you know, very mountains and fresh air and getting to New York City and the smog and the heat and the traffic, and I felt really just yucky all the time. And I think there is something to be said about just a little bit of a fresh air experience is good for a fold.
Yeah, it seriously does. I mean, I moved from a suburb to another suburb with fewer people from Newton, Massachusetts, to Grafton, Mass. And what a shift I look out, even though it is artificial, because it’s a golf course. But I could feel every day I walk around without a lot of people next to me, and I finally can claim, like, I love living here. I can imagine living here for the rest of my life. I don’t care what my especially Chinese friends want to make fun of me for, because I grew up in Beijing with now like, 14, 15 million people. So I love it here. I loved living in Frederick, Maine, with like, 20,000 people when I was 17. And this is really cool. And I love the fact that during the pandemic, it wasn’t for a live stream or doing a YouTube video. I would absolutely be, like, bare faced. I wouldn’t put anything on. And finally working on consulting marketing for a decade. Like, every day you’re supposed you’re expected to look a certain way. And now my skin, everything can actually breathe. I think I’d probably look better than when I was in my 20s even.
Yeah, my skin, it does breathe. It’s a respiratory organ. So you’re right. There’s something to be said about. And I do question sometimes whether because women tend to have more chronic illnesses. Women have more autoimmune disorders. I sometimes do wonder if that isn’t all of the perfumes and chemicals and shit that we put on our bodies.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I definitely developed unfortunate eczema. And I saw one of your podcast guests also talked about it as well, thinking, how do I get rid of it? But I think it’s just living a lifestyle. Like you said, breathe more, remember to breathe and treat yourself with kindness is really the theme. So, I mean, I could go on.
Forever, but I just want to keep talking with you. I think moving into this house that you’re going to create some day for elderly ladies, we’re all going to be creative together and keep our podcast and going. I’m moving in, so save me a room.
Oh, trust me, I’m serious. For people who don’t know what we’re talking about here. So Kimberly and I did talk about something that somehow we’re being confronted. We don’t have kids. And I know a lot of creators, a lot of my close friends don’t have kids. Maybe that’s not by accident, because my great friends with kids have no time for me whatsoever for the next 18 years. And as a result, I really think that we could come together. And then the most common questions we’re thinking about is, oh, man, when we were old, and who’s going to take care of us? I honestly don’t think about it so much because with this creative energy, I feel like putting the right people together, we can really live a really good life. I told my mom, I said, I already told Kimberly we’re going to grow old together. And she’s like, I love that idea. Imagine. Not kidding. So I’m building up. Yeah, this is a big house with a basement, and we’ll have close to I haven’t really talked about it because it’s a pandemic, but my mom being here, you know, this house is about three 0.
Basement is another little less than a thousand, I think. But I decided that truly is not for me. I want to build a home where I can invite my friends over if they need help. If I’m going to come together to create. I literally invited my content manager, Anna, who lives in Italy, my producer Herman in Sweden. I’m going to just literally make this into a creative space and people.
Imagine the stories that we could tell and, you know, it makes my mom is 76. She runs circles around me. She is healthier and just gorgeous. She lives in Boulder, Colorado, and all of her friends are all they’re just energetic and engaged with the community. And this is the best time of her life. She says that being 76 is the best years she’s having. And some of them are still kind of searching for their man or my mom’s a widow, and so she’s like, no, I don’t. Need it. I have my friends, I have my painting studio, and we have all these different events. She goes to take classes at the university. They just let her take classes for free. It’s just like, why not milk life for what it’s worth? And when you’re at that age, and if you have a healthy body, just go for it.
Yeah. And it’s so lovely to say my mom also as a widow, I mean, I know both of us lost our dads. And then to watch them make decisions, kind of keep going with their lives, and then their intention to be like, I’m never going to be my daughter’s burden. I will be very independent, which my mom was and still is today. And for us to have these conversations, I love living with you. I want to care for you. And she contributes so much to my life. Not just cooking, cleaning stuff, but that creative inspiration and energy. So, so much to be said about that. As opposed to, I, too, want all her friends, some widowed, to be still she’s 69, to still be like, we got to have a men in our lives. Even people sending her messages to you, she really shouldn’t be alone. You shouldn’t live with your daughter. It’s just so fascinating that women somehow were born with this burden, since we’re, like, 1314 years old, about who to attract and how to stand out into our twenty s, thirty s, and forever into our seventy s and eighty s. But we can choose to live differently.
Yeah. And there’s so much wisdom that when you do choose your own life path, my mom, she’s actually just recently said, I do a podcast, make another podcast, and only interview people over the age of 70 and ask them what they’ve learned in our culture. We put them away, we put them in homes, they’re done. We don’t want to hear from them anymore. It’s kind of similar to chronic illness. It’s too painful. But they have so much wisdom to share. Why are we hearing their stories? Not just like, the funny stuff, but funny things that Grandpa tells about when he was a youngster, but the wisdom that they’ve learned over seven decades.
Yeah, seven decades. And then some of those latest decades are exponential. It’s not like 70 year olds equivalents to three and a half, 20 year olds. I was like, It doesn’t even work that way. It just living a different time is still fascinating to me. And for you, Kimberly, for anybody who is interested in exploring, like, even animations, haya Miyazaki is still alive, does all these great animations. And I got so into all of them, and little did I realize that nobody was even on their cell phone for a fraction of a second in any of those films because he focused on just turned 80, I believe. And he focused so many of these stories on the sort of 1940s japan and also European countries. And every time I watch those films, I feel like I’m literally being transported to those kinds in a time that I can relate to. I almost want to live in. There are all rainbows and unicorns, but it’s just so fascinating. So I love the idea your mom is going to possibly start a show. Is that right?
Well, she has a friend who has a radio show, so they live like, two doors down from each other. So I said, get together with Lark and talk about doing this show because my schedule is full of me.
Hold another show my mom will do. My mom claims to do a project and then, like, put me as producer without permission. That would totally happen with my mom.
My mom’s like, I’ve got a great idea. You should do this, Kimberly. And I’m like, mom, you’re the one that just, like, paints all day. You’ve got time and time.
That’s still not my mom’s name. To an artist, they have something in common. That’s amazing. Oh, my gosh. So good to have you, Kimberly. I really want people to check out your work on social media, Facebook, Instagram, but also, most importantly, YouTube and be able to support your work. If this resonates with anybody, you can certainly support unfixed media. There’s a donation button on their website, but just get in touch and maybe help refer the right guests after you listen and watch some of the stories. There are so many ways to help out and to stay engaged, and the creator community needs you more than ever. So whether you see yourself as a creator or otherwise. So thanks again.
This is so wonderful. I just love spending time with you, and I can’t wait till we get to meet in person someday.
Thank you again.
I’m going to take us off.
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- My FAVORITE chapstick: https://tinyurl.com/4r9uh8dm
- The glycolic I use: https://tinyurl.com/9c9bdb7e
- My day and night face lotion: https://tinyurl.com/u3psce3e
- My extra treat, especially during dry indoors in the winter. This stuff is like liquid gold. It instantly makes my skin feel soft and supple. Forgot to mention this one! https://tinyurl.com/2exrwzzw
- Migraine reducing glasses: https://www.axonoptics.com