Photo Cred: Hannah Skewes


Conversations for Healing and Change

The Soul Stories Podcast is hosted by Danny Mazur and produced by Kamga Tchassa (both pictured above). In season 5, we talk with clinicians, alternative healers, and more as we open necessary conversations on "mental health and healing".

Episode 1:

De-stigmatizing Mental Health

Marisa Gullickrud LCSW Social Work Mental Health

Marisa Gullicksrud is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the State Clinical Director of Child First. I'm so excited that she is leading off our first episode of this season. She has been a mentor to me, is a leader in the Denver community and is an overall shining light of a person. In this episode she shares her experiences with depression and opens up about close family members she lost. We talked about the balance of human centered vulnerability and rigorous academic training in therapy. Marisa sheds light on why the mental health system is so challenging to navigate and how important it is that we de-stigmatize seeking help. I had a blast talking with her and hope you enjoy this one. Here is our episode!


Consider supporting The Soul Stories Podcast at or sending a small donation to our Venmo account @SoulStories!


1:44 - Marisa's journey to mental health work

12:32 - When the color drained from her life

19:40 - Self-discovery and purpose

23:20 - Working through shame and valuing vulnerability

29:15 - The challenges of accessing quality mental health care

33:23 - What does quality mental health care look like?

43:04 - The importance of creating vulnerable and empowering dialogue 

46:22 - "I was only able to stand up because other people were lifting me up"

50:36 - How to take the first step to get help

53:23 - Finding the right therapist and resources to do so

56:08 - The Colorado mental health crisis

58:40 - How mental health and the conversation needs to evolve

1:04:30 - Hope for the future

Episode 2:

The Healing Process

Gabriel de Oliveira Duarte therapist and healer

Gabriel is a Brazilian therapist and an incredibly warm, meditative and introspective person. This is a really special episode because he is my current therapist. And we dig deep into the therapeutic process. I talk about what I'm working through and Gabe shares intimate stories that really illuminate how beautiful and challenging healing can be. We talk about being triggered, childhood wounds, and strategies that we use even when they don't serve us. This conversation is informative and insightful. It feels like you are sitting down for coffee with a good friend. I had a good time and I believe you will too!


To contact Gabriel, you can find him at 


Consider supporting The Soul Stories Podcast at or sending a small donation to our Venmo account @SoulStories!


1:14 - Gabriel's work and his wounds

14:21 - Introduction to Danny and Gabriel's therapeutic relationship

16:59 - Triggers: an opportunity for healing

18:56 - What prevents us from facing painful truths?

24:50 - Owning your own projection as a therapist

27:53 - Danny and Gabriel's boundaries

34:00 - Gabriel's body-based process with Danny and everyone else

42:09 - Abandonment and childhood fear

46:00 - Getting in touch with your heart - Gabriel and his brother

53:19 - One woman's incredible journey to set boundaries

59:39 - Why should we pursue healing? 

Episode 3:

Fighting to Live

John McDermott Suicide Prevention

Note: Since this podcast was recorded, John now identifies as non-binary and professionally uses the pronouns "they / them" and personally uses all pronouns. In drag, they only go by "she".


John McDermott is the Bodycare Manager at Natural Grocers and a good friend of mine with a gigantic heart. John shares in-depth about their mental health journey and diagnoses. They have been hospitalized eight times and have what is called chronic suicidal ideation. Trigger warning: John discusses multiple suicide attempts. They showcase an incredible amount of strength and ability to persevere throughout this conversation. This episode is equal parts heavy and fun. We end up talking about boxing, masculinity, identity and John's new passion for dressing in drag. I was really grateful to witness a story as powerful as this one and hope you have a similar experience.


For more from John, check out their event, The Love and Hope Drag show, which will be streamed on Facebook live at 11:00 AM on February 14th, 2021. It’ll feature Ximena Latinx, Jessica L’Whore, Bella C Le Cher, Simon Paul, Celeste Brooks, Betty Sparkles, Lola Fierce, and Patricia Del Rosario. 


Consider supporting The Soul Stories Podcast at or sending a small donation to our Venmo account @SoulStories!


3:29 - Suicide in our country

11:33 - John's attempts and their love for others

17:16 - Experiencing a Mental Health Hospital

25:12 - Planning for a downward spiral

30:01 - "Seeing myself as worth it and deserving a life"

35:47 - Boxing and privilege

43:21 - White privilege and mental health co-existing

51:20 - Borderline Personality Disorder

58:36 - John's fluid identity and reckoning with masculinity

1:05:49 - Living in Alaska

1:11:09 - Pursuing the feminine 

1:16:22 - Discovering drag

Kerri-Ann Appleton Empowerment Coach

Kerri-Ann Appleton is an empowerment coach and teacher in every sense of the word. We talk about how to find alignment with our authentic selves and all the challenges we undergo in that process. She gets vulnerable and shares about her childhood wounds along with the tools she is using to work with them. Kerri-Ann discusses a recent experience with gaslighting and manipulation and all the self-growth that has come from that. And I think that's what I respect the most about Kerri-Ann. She is a coach who not only teaches, but leads by example. This is an inspiring episode and I am excited for you to listen!


IG: coaching_with_kerriann


FB Group:


Considering joining us in this journey at


3:33 - Empowerment coaching

9:21 - Reprogramming how we were conditioned in childhood

16:21 - Letting go of old identities to embrace new ones

24:07 - Being gaslighted and manipulated by a significant other

31:09 - Understanding manipulation 

35:20 - Cultural differences of dating and living in Brazil

44:21 - Distinguishing between fear and wisdom; fact and story 

50:39 - "Are you going to answer the call for the invite to growth?"

58:25 - Stepping into self-acceptance of our imperfections

1:03:00 - Setting boundaries with compassion

1:06:56 - This is happening for our greatest good

Ryan Harris Motivational Speaker Super Bowl Champion

Ryan Harris is a motivational speaker, ex-Denver Bronco, and Super Bowl Champion. You will hear about the NFL, his unique experiences, and the pressures and expectations he endured to play football at that level. He shares relatable tips on how to eliminate distractions, find your discipline, and the very human process of setting boundaries. He talks about how we all need to define our own success in our own lives and surround ourselves with people who will help us reach those goals. I was blown away by his vulnerability, his ability to lead with his own story and share his own shortcomings, and what he had to do to become who he is today. We talk about racism, society and so much more. Enjoy!


For more from Ryan Harris check out He has a book titled "Mindset for Mastery" and can be hired for speaking engagements!


Considering joining us in this journey at


2:02 - Introduction to Ryan's NFL journey

4:40 - Choosing your mindset to overcome

7:49 - The unexpected pressures of being in the NFL

12:24 - Reverse engineer your goals

15:19 - Stress is our number one issue

18:00 - Ryan's NFL wake-up call

21:55 - The importance of having the right people around you

25:48 - "Your worth does not come from other people"

32:34 - Racial injustice in our society

36:15 - How to have these difficult conversations

41:34 - Resolving conflict

Dr. Robert Davies LGBTQ Mental Health Trans Health

Dr. Robert Davies is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Co-Founder and Director of the UCHealth LGBTQ Mental Health Clinic otherwise known as the Imagine Clinic. He also co-founded their Integrated Transgender program. Bob leads with the intimate details of his story which is inspiring and at times heart-breaking. He talks about being raised Southern Baptist and how before he knew he was gay, he grew up feeling different. Bob describes how the 70's were a much different time. People didn't talk about being Gay or what that meant. Up until 1972 you couldn't practice as a psychiatrist if you were openly gay because you weren't "psychologically sound". In this conversation, we talk about the rampant homophobia and transphobia in this country. Bob gives us an in-depth look at the challenges that the LGBTQ and Trans communities face when trying to receive quality mental health care and medical support. This is an important, informational and hopeful conversation. Here is our episode!


Imagine Clinic:

Integrated Transgender Program:


Consider joining us on this journey by going to!


4:48 - Growing up Southern Baptist: "feeling different and wrong"

10:20 - Homophobia in the 70's

13:56 - Bob's relationship to his mom

16:10 - Coming out at 41 after being married for 20 years

24:48 - the AiDS epidemic in the 90's

27:54 - Fears of being openly gay as a psychiatrist

35:16 - The origins of the Imagine Clinic

40:20 - What quality LGBTQ mental health care looks like

48:30 - Building a Transgender clinic with all-inclusive, integrated services

53:35 - The lack of safety and understanding for the Trans community

57:28 - A historical perspective on oppression

1:02:06 - What LGBTQ youth face today and hope for the future

1:11:23 - Misunderstanding body dysmorphia and Transgender folks

1:16:31 - "Educating people that were never educated"

1:20:12 - The importance of accepting someone as they are

Kriste Peoples Writer, trailrunner, meditator

Kriste Peoples is a writer, trail runner, and meditator. She is a leader in the Denver community and somebody I really look up to. She makes you feel so comfortable when you are around her and has the best laugh. In this conversation, she talks about growing up in a military family, her internal curiosity, and always wanting to push against the edge while asking the question "what's next?". The first half of the interview is about her journey and how she found her path. In the second half, we discuss the power of mindfulness and nature. We talk about how when we slow down we can turn and face our fears, stories, limiting beliefs and unresolved pain. Kriste an incredible person and I'm excited for you to listen!




Consider joining us on this journey by going to!


4:47 - Kriste's adventures to find her place in the U.S.

16:00 - Following the path of fulfillment

25:57 - Leaning into the unknown

35:00 - The healing power of nature

40:40 - Mindfulness: cultivating our capacity to be with what's difficult

49:50 - Being with life as it happens

59:47 - Breaking through barriers

1:04:45 - Presence in everyday life

1:15:03 - Creating space to breathe