Shannon Weber’s love you2 makes it easy to give love get love

Fork in the road? Why not take both. Shannon Weber did, because the two roads that presented themselves to her were braided together by an indestructible thread of love and a desire to strengthen others.

Shannon Weber head of HIVE and she loves you 2

Shannon Weber head of HIVE and she loves you 2

Shannon is the director of HIVE, the UCSF program that is the hub of positive and sexual reproductive health that cares for HIV positive pregnant women. The process is a complicated response to the simple desire of HIV infected men and women to have children. Listen to Shannon talk about how couples can now minimize the chance of spreading the virus to each other and to their babies and how they can now live full and loving lives as parents without being isolated from their present or cut off from their future by AIDS.

Shannon’s enthusiasm for the well-being of others has helped build healthy and loving families in more ways than one. She used to leave little tokens to her daughters so they could have a piece of her with them while she was traveling for work. They assured her they needed a piece of her even when she was home, and presto change-o, Love You 2, a program that scatters the power of love in the form of easy to deliver and easy to read notes was born. To listen to Shannon talk about each of these programs is, in a word, uplifting and best heard for some surprising details in Shannon’s own voice.

San Francisco artist Toby Klayman is up on what’s up and willing to share more of it

San Francisco artist Toby Klayman is up on what's up and willing to share more of itToby Klayman’s life has been and still is one of constant pivotal decisions. She seems always to have been steps ahead of the crowd with her unique, firmly held and life-changing viewpoints. You may remember her declining her parents’ invitation to make a “good” marriage, her standing firm in her decision to be an artist, her move to New York, her experience as a young unwed birth-mother who placed her beautiful daughter for adoption after 5 days, the letter of regret she wrote to the baby she held close in her heart for 27 years when she legally adopted the baby she gave birth to so they could be mother and daughter again.

Toby is back to talk about other essential decisions such as moving her community college art classes to Fort Mason when it was nothing more than a forsaken US Army post and seeing the profound value of computers and pushing to install the first one in Fort Mason despite the resistance of other faculty members. She talks about her years of teaching not just fine art but the importance of giving her students some surprising practical and hi-tech tools so they can live successfully as artists.          San Francisco artist Toby Klayman is up on what's up and willing to share more of it

She wants her students to shine by heeding the call of their own passion over paying attention to what others say or require of them. Toby Klayman is totally adaptable and up on what’s up in life, and, because she knows how to see the value of things as they come down the pike, snapped right into social media to reach a world-wide audience. Listening to her talk is a lesson in what it means to succeed.

Toby Klayman artist whose life is a work of genius

Toby Klayman

Toby Klayman

Because Toby Judith Klayman is a San Francisco artist of such experience, productivity, originality, generosity depth and breadth that it is hard to capture her in just a few words here, this is the first of three visits with Toby.

She knew early that she wanted to be an artist, a career as far removed as possible from the path of the particular proper marriage that her mother had chosen for her. Toby says her parents were sorely disappointed, but a calling is a calling, so moved to New York and eventually to San Francisco where the gallery owners received her with more than enthusiasm. She lived between San Francisco and Greece, and spent decades  teaching art at SF City College.

Toby at work in her studio

Toby at work in her studio

Life was beautiful and brilliant in so many ways, yet there was more than an echo of sorrow in her heart over the baby girl she placed for adoption and missed every day. To hear Toby talk about this is a lesson in so many kind of love that it is understandable only when you hear it from Toby herself. She talks about the letter she wrote to be placed in the court files in case her daughter should ever search for her birth-mother. It is a love letter of regret and longing. It is a letter that changed two lives once again forever.

Toby, as always, shares herself and her love for both her talented and beautiful daughter, Susan Harris O’Connor, and her husband, the artist Joseph Mack Branchcomb, with total candor, humor and power in a way that is uniquely Toby Klayman.

Blair Webb wonderful writer and thinker wants to be known beyond her disability

Blair with actor and comedian Geri Jewell at RoboCamp fundraiser

Blair with actor and comedian Geri Jewell at RoboCamp fundraiser       photo by Michael Hansel

 

 

Blair Webb is a 24 year-old breath of fresh air with talents and plans. You know at first glance that you are in the presence of intelligence because it is clearly visible in her smile and reflected in her eyes. Her assistant, Megan Gill, who spends five days a week with Blair and accompanies her to school, says, “Blair is in a wheelchair and has cp and people have a hard time understanding her.  She is super-smart and witty.”

Megan is essentially a loving and meticulous simultaneous translator who found this job on the internet. In answer to how Megan understands everything Blair says so easily, Megan says rather casually, “Because we have talked a lot. It just takes time.” With Megan’s help you get the words, but even without Megan’s help you get the smile in Blair’s heart, and the enthusiasm in her every thought that reflect the depth of her abilities.

Blair is an exceptional writer, joyful, smooth and clear. In high school she says she “knew she could write but people did not believe in me like they do here at PASW” where she has attended classes for 5 years, and where, thanks to John Paizis, every talent can shine brightly. Blair is very clear that is “because it is about looking at the abilities and not the disabilities.” Listen to Blair talk about her acting, writing, college studies (sociology), and about her plans to create some sort of program for children with disabilities. And stay until the end when she pops back to share a fabulous business plan for American Girl.

Blair hopes to spend her life writing plays. “It has always been something I can do on my own.” What would she like people to know about her? What is the most important thing to her about life? No one has ever asked her that before but she is ready with an answer, “ For people not to judge me by my disability. And, to try to get to know me as a person.”

Her love letter? Maybe yes and maybe no, but she is thinking about it. A letter from this loving smart young woman would be something to keep forever in the treasure box!

Actor and acting coach Diana Elizabeth Jordan’s fated path to success

Diana on the day she received her MFA in acting

Diana on the day she received her MFA in acting

Choosing acting as a profession takes a special kind of person, someone who is not daunted by challenge upon challenge. Diana Elizabeth Jordan, now an actor and acting coach at Performing Arts Studio West, who says she came into this world wanting to act, is exactly that special kind of person. She was born to the challenge of her delivery team working for 45 minutes before she could breathe on her own and since then has taken challenges as a matter of course.

Growing up with cerebral palsy, she was sometimes teased by other children. But, no surprise considering her spark, talent, intelligence, diligence and loving nature, she had a lot of friends as well. She also had a big loving extended family as well as devoted and intelligent parents who made sure she was in mainstream classes. She was 6 when she saw Romeo kill Tybalt and she knew where her place in the world would be. When Diana was young, on her first completion of an oral presentation, her teacher asked students in the class to raise their hands if they understood her at all. Not one hand went up.  Diana was mortified. What came next is a practical lesson great teaching, true wisdom, helping a talented student reach potential and what determination can do for a student bent on success.

She went on to earn her BA and her MFA in acting and became an acting teacher, working actor, motivational speaker, and founder of some exceptional programs like Dare to Dream whose purpose it to pass on the strength to others for reaching their potential. She may have needed help taking that first breath, but every breath since has been directed at improving the world. The joy, intelligence, easy laughter, strength and triumph that has been hers, she readily gives to others.

Listen to her talk about her life, her teachers, her acting career and how the children who once teased her have found her on Facebook to become her close friends. Her love letter? Maybe to her aunt Rhoda an actor who died before Diana was born and for whom Diana has always had enormous affection.

Diana Elizabeth Jordan,Damien Hodge, Lindsay Martin

Diana Elizabeth Jordan,Damien Hodge, Lindsay Martin

John Paizis’s Performing Arts Studio West of Los Angeles lets talent shine

John Paizis as dialogue coach one of many roles at PASW

John Paizis as dialogue coach one of many roles at PASW

John Paizis, founder and director of the Performing Arts Studio West, is a man of many talents and a significant performance history. He was the lead singer in Kid Twist and World Affairs. He was an actor who studied in New York with Sandy Meisner. He was a dancer. He was a voice over artist. And, with all this he had a strong sense of what teaching could do, so in 1980 he moved to Los Angeles for a simultaneous career as a classroom instructor for autistic adults.

When that closed 17 years later and he found himself unemployed at the age of 44, John was in what turned out to be a rather enviable position. He could design his own, and as it turns out limitless, career that took into account myriad talents, generosity and generous sense of well being for everyone. Listen to John talk about the steps he took to found PASW, which has become an acting school, casting agency and performing center all in one that is geared to adults with disabilities.

John Paizis coaching Isaac Leyva on the set of the film Any Day Now also starring Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt

John Paizis coaching Isaac Leyva on the set of the film Any Day Now also starring Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt Photo by Isaac Levya

It seems that miracles come about when talent, diligence and commitment are bound together with love and respect. His love letter? He answered that very quickly. He plans one that is equal parts tribute, love and history.

John Paizis on the set of the FX comedy, Legit with PASW actor Nick Daley photo by John Paizis

John Paizis on the set of the FX comedy, Legit with PASW actor Nick Daley photo by John Paizis

Jeffrey Janis’s strong childhood sense of philanthropy still with him

Jeffrey Janis's strong childhood sense of philanthropy still with himJeffrey Janis works for Ronald McDonald House, and Ronald McDonald House works for the health of children with life threatening diseases by providing housing for families with children in treatment for the duration of that treatment and beyond. It is no surprise that Jeffrey is moved by seeing other lives strengthened, no surprise that he is drawn to the world of philanthropic organizations. As a child, he never cared about the candy, but did love Trick or Treat night for getting people to put money in the UNICEF cans. At the age of 44 he joined the peace corp and moved to the Ukraine where he became forever part of a family. Recently he found a Ukrainian branch of his American family tree. Listen to him talk about Ronald McDonald House and the miracles it enables, about his American family, his Ukrainian family with whom he learned to speak Russian, and his recollection of significant historical memories.

Jeffrey again with his host Ukrainian family

Jeffrey again with his host Ukrainian family

The Ukrainian Mama and Papa Jeffrey calls family

The Ukrainian Mama and Papa Jeffrey calls family

Hearing about his planned love letter is to look into the heart of a man whose calling in life is helping others. Fascinating and pure joy!

Caregiving guru Joan Gray with truths on how love works

Caregiving guru Joan Gray with truths on how love worksJoan Gray last spoke with us about caregiving that counts through strengthening people at a point that might be their weakest. As an afterthought she mentioned writing a love letter to people who are not at their most lovable through no fault of their own, so it seemed like a good idea to have Joan come back to talk about just that. And, was it ever! A good idea, that is.

You can bet that Joan knows how to get through the challenge of being assaulted by anger born of fear and illness. Queen of empathy that she is, because she knows hot to stop, assess and listen, she knows how to answer. Every sentence of hers is some effortless teaching that comes from her personal experience and earned wisdom.

Listen to her talk about having to love someone from a distance, herself included, because she knows everyone has his or her moments. She has a rare and authoritative handle on human behavior, amends, acceptance, pointing fingers at others. And she tells truths you may not hear elsewhere, like on California manners, racism, dating, romantic relationships, setting boundaries, expectations, personal growth, men, grief, common courtesy, her own marriage at the age of 51 and what made that work, and the passing of her mother and husband within 4 days of each other.

Following Joan through the connected moments of her life is to know how healing and fun the truth can be. She is, in her own three words, “not a pretender.” She is, in one word, great.

Robin Fryday San Francisco Bay Area documentarian captures great deeds on film

Robin Fryday San Francisco Bay Area documentarian captures great deeds on filmCapturing world changing moments is an art safe in the hands of photographer and documentarian Robin Fryday, who has a sense of when it is time to set the record straight.

James Armstrong, the owner of a barbershop in Birmingham Alabama, fought for the right to vote while carrying the American flag in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march from Selma to Montgomery. He was the first to integrate his children in an all-white Elementary School. As the 2008 presidential election loomed into view, Robin knew that American could be on the verge of a huge change and that Mr. Armstrong may be seeing a dream come true. She knew it was time to record his story of courage and what personal persistence can achieve. Robin’s own personal persistence was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for this historical biography.

Her most recent documentary, Riding My Way Back, tells the story of Staff Sergeant Aaron Heliker, who returned from service in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injury, third degree burns accompanied by nerve damage from a roadside bomb, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and suffering the regimen of 42 medications. He was suicidal. It was the friendship of a horse named Fred that saved him.

Listen to Robin talk not only about Mr. Armstrong and Aaron Heliker, but what it took to get these films completed, the effect they have had

Woody Weingarten’s Rollercoaster now available to help men survive their wives’ breast cancer

Woody Weingarten author of Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer

Woody Weingarten author of Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer

Woody Weingarten's Rollercoaster now available to help men survive their wives' breast cancerWoody Weingarten is a survivor of his wife’s breast cancer. From the moment of her diagnosis, she had to struggle through the fear and confusion of what it meant, what to do first, what to do next and what were her options. So did he. Her goal became survival. So did his.

Not so recognized an issue is that for every married woman diagnosed with breast cancer, there is a husband who has to survive it as well. He has to conquer his inexperience and survive his own terror in order to be a strength to her. He needs patience and insight and practical information about cancer, resources, research and treatment options. He needs to be an emotional tower of strength who knows what his wife wants of him. This is a very tall and sad order. And, finding support for men who are not used to being reactive is hard. Hard to ask for help in a time of private anguish, hard even to put the questions into words, and, until now, hard to find the resource.

Now there is help. Woody’s book Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer is that help. The book began as Woody’s personal journal, but when he saw the information in it, he realized it belonged in the hands of other men who were on this same rollercoaster without assistance. Rollercoaster is a wonderful hybrid geared to guide men through what they may expect. It is a memoir, a love story, a research guide, a blueprint for some realities of chemotherapy and medications. It is emotional support, and on the whole, it is a story of survival and romance.

Woody and his wife Nancy today living and loving

Woody and his wife Nancy today living and loving

Woody talks about his own journey through his wife’s cancer, how he knew what she wanted of him, how she helped him through first her cancer and then his, and how they planned, event by event, for a positive treatment-free future. Woody not only developed the strength to lead his wife to safety but, as the facilitator of Marin Man to Man, to be the safe haven for other men who are facing the same challenge of a wife with breast cancer. His love letter? Many.