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 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 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


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


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Founder/Executive Director:

Danny Mazur

Creative Director:

Shelsea Ochoa 

Community Advisory Board:

Hamish Pike

Shelsea Ochoa

Ellie Swensson

Kamga Tchassa

Joe Horton

Hannah Skewes

Project Teams

1st Sunday's:

Shelsea Ochoa

The Soul Stories Podcast:

Kamga Tchassa


Hannah Skewes

Approaching the Unknown:

Kristen Wade

Hamish Pike