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Welcome to the Coaching Studio Podcast

This podcast features fun, lively conversations with masterful coaches who are creating an impact. Get to know them, their journey into coaching, and discover what wisdom they would offer you about being a better coach.

Let’s go!

the Coaching Studio Guest

I am very excited to welcome Elaine Patterson, Coaching Supervisor to the Coaching Studio Podcast.


  • Host: Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC
  • Music: Frolic by Harrison Amer
  • Production Editing: Lyssa deHart
  • Social Media and Communications: Michele Logan

About This Episode

Read the transcript of this episode of the Coaching Studio Podcast:

Lyssa deHart Hello, Lyssa deHart here. And welcome to the Coaching Studio. Today in the studio, I have Elaine Patterson. Elaine is somebody who I met through coaching supervision and was just so excited about. Elaine is an internationally renown reflective thinking partner, Master Executive Coach with the EMCC. Accredited Coach Supervisor with the EMCC, and a writer. Elaine’s passion is to bring the energizing, creative, and humanizing powers of reflection, reflective practice, and SuperVision, and we’ll talk about that in a bit, to leaders, professionals, and people everywhere for courageous, compassionate, and ethical practice. Elaine’s purpose is to bring reflections, discipline, and practices to every role work, conversation, consulting room, or boardroom. With the intention of helping us to connect to our shared humanity and what truly matters. To create anew at the edge of continual change, and to act with integrity in the world. Elaine takes her inspiration from her love of the arts, history, meditation, writing, poetry, nature, and nordic walking. Her practice is underpinned by her original peer-reviewed research which coined the phrase Reflect to Create. And this brings us to her list of books. Elaine has three books that are out there for you to consider and I will have links in the, in the details. Reflect to Create: The Dance of Reflection for Creative Leadership, Professional Practice, and Supervision. There is also a companion reflection work, workbook, and journal. The second book being, Our Humanity @ Work: -Working with 7Cs, the 7 Human Capacities for Insight, Learning, and Change: A New Lens for Coaching, Coaching Supervision, and Executive Reflection. And the third book is, Tomorrow’s Global Leaders Today: Executive Reflection, Working Wisely in Turbulent Times, co-authored with Jackie Arnold. And I have a couple of book reviews real quick, Elaine, hold on just one second. So the review for Reflect to Create, “a great personal reflection or use in coaching supervision, or even team group-based learning, has led me to profound discovery. I bought 2, 1 as a gift for a friend. ” That’s always good! And then Tomorrow’s Global Leaders Today has a lovely review which is, “an extremely valuable handbook, a guide to help leaders stop and think with tools to allow reflection to gain greater perspective and to make sense of their lives, their resilience, and how to enable the best in others, their teams, and their organizations in a VUCA world that is global, virtual, and diverse, very timely. ” Thank you so much for being here, Elaine, I’m so happy to have you.
Elaine Patterson Thank you for inviting me, it’s lovely to be with you.
Lyssa deHart Well as we do this, I’m really curious, very few people just are, I mean I think people may be born coaches but very few people are born into the profession of coaching. They tend to have a journey or an arc that has led them here. How have you ended up in coaching and specifically even in coaching supervision?
Elaine Patterson Well, um my journey started I think when I was 15 or 16, when I was studying for my English literature exams over here in the UK. And two of those books have had a profound impact on me, which shaped me today, I hope forever. The first one was the Harper Lee’s book to Kill a Mockingbird, which you might be familiar with. And there’s, I brought it with me actually, it’s my old copy from school, and there’s a wonderful um piece that really caught my imagination, all that time ago. And it’s when the father Atticus is explaining to his children how to be with other people. And I just like to quote this, and it’s been absolutely foundational to me, and Atticus explains to General and Scout, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his or her point of view, until you climb into their skin and walk around in it. ” And I just had a bolt of lightning and thought this feels like my life’s work. And the other thing that really struck me, we were also studying Shakespeare’s King Lear, which you might also know. And there’s um there’s a scene when King Lear has become completely mad and he’s wandering on the heath, and he shouts to the storm, he shouts about man’s inhumanity to man. Man’s inhumanity to man. And again, that really landed to me because I felt well that’s, that’s about how do we look at creating and building a kinder, more hopeful, more wiser, more generous, more abundant world. And it feels more true now, today. And then it might have done then when I was 16, 17, things has changed so much since then. So they were my two foundational pieces, then to, to pick up the story. I went to university, I studied history, not English literature. Um I was torn. So, but I kept my love of English literature which really informs my practice as you kindly mentioned, I draw from poetry and quotes, alongside of nature. And I was lucky enough at 21 to join the NHS our National Health Service, Nationally Leadership Program. And it was an absolutely fabulous, rich training and I was incredibly fortunate to be one of the few people um in 1983, which was Thatcher’s government, and you might remember images of the miner’s striking. There was huge uproar, jobs were really, really tight over here in the UK. And I was lucky enough to get onto this program. And I count my blessings to this day because that leadership experience also really shaped and informed how I now work as a coach, how I work as a supervisor, and what I want to communicate through my writing. And then another piece of luck in that I was asked to be um a general manager at very early 20s. And this was a massive, massive step. And if you can picture in Northwest England three massive hospitals. Um, none of which actually had any relationship with each other, none of the medical and all of the other teams knew each other, didn’t see why they should come under the portfolio of the medical specialties. And I was asked to lead this wonderful group of,
Lyssa deHart Bringing them together.
Elaine Patterson Bringing them together. And I remember having another sort of eureka moment and I just cleared my desk and I thought what I have been taught at the business school, what I have been taught on my national leadership program, isn’t going to get me to where I need to be with this wonderful, talented descript a group of people. And that’s when I started to invent. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I started to invent the role of leader as coach. And really started to have a clear desk, really started to engage in really meaningful conversations, developed fun, looked at presencing, looking at not knowing, asking the questions, creating agendas for teams that were headed by questions, not items for discussion, having Chatham House Rules so that we could have our safe space where we could just show up with all of our joys, our anxieties, and our delights. And just talk about how we were going to take forward this incredible group of people with them with their support and how we were going to engage and reach out and again, that was absolutely foundational to how I then move forward and I embodied that into all of my leadership practice. And I think leadership is a practice.
Lyssa deHart Yeah.
Elaine Patterson Not a job, it’s a vocation and I think it’s a huge honor and a huge, huge privilege to be asked to lead people. And for them to want to be led by you or to follow you and to actually have a co-creative relationship of equals, that can attend to whatever the mission or purpose is of the team or the organization. So I hold that really Um it was a huge honor, huge honor. So I then went into the Department of Health, I got promoted. I came to London, I got married and I still carried on, leader as coach, not having read yet a book about coaching. And back in 2003, um, we adopted our daughter who at that time was just 2 and a half, and my husband and I, he was a GP, I was the Director in the NHS at the time and we had to make some obviously huge, huge life choices. And I wanted to be a mom at home. So I went on to adoption leave and went to see a coach and said, what do I do? Yes. How, what now, um am I going to do to redesign myself to reinvent myself in a way that creates balance across the family and also meets me and who I am and who and in a way that you keep me alive as well. It’s really, really important. I’m sure all, all new parents can identify with that sense of pressure. So the upshot of that was that I uh I went on an executive coach training program realizing I’ve done all the sort of strategic, and the team, and the political, and the big stuff. And if I could be trained to work safely in the privileged space of the coaching room at that time we were still going place to place work. If I could work safely, ethically, creatively, and bring my experience, my joys, my enthusiasms, my sense of purpose into, into coaching. I could set up my own practice and I could move forward and create a win-win for everybody. So I trained and I got, you know, we were lucky enough to have a cleaner at the time. So literally she used to help me pick up our daughter from nursery so I could go and meet my clients in London and do my practice sessions. And that was kind of how it was a very sort of homespun way of cobbling it together. But I loved it.
Lyssa deHart Yeah.
Elaine Patterson And then when I qualified, I said, I need a supervisor. I’ve got, it makes perfect absolute beautiful sense.
Lyssa deHart Before you, before you go there, I want to just capture a couple of things that have shown up as you talked from my perspective, is really going back to Kill a Mockingbird and King Lear. And this idea of really recognizing that we need to walk in another person’s shoes. And it’s an interesting walk that you’ve taken through your own shoes. And I think that that reflective piece is what is so elemental. It is that I think so few people actually walk in their own shoes in a curious way. They do it in a routine and habitual way maybe, but not necessarily in a curious way. And what I’m hearing you do is that you became really curious with yourself as you move out of this role into a new role and how are you going to reinvent yourself? You’re walking through your own shoes, but with such, with such wonder really, for lack of a better word.
Elaine Patterson Yeah, thank you. And I was putting reflective practices in right at that time when I was in my late twenties and when the new policy documents came out, I would carve out the time and I would remove myself from the work side because I had to, I felt I needed to understand what was required of us in order to kind of communicate, find what would work for us, what made sense, what didn’t make sense, where we were going to have problems. And it was that critical stepping back, that dance of stepping back onto the balcony, moving into the dance floor, and that constant moving in-out, leaning in, and leaning out. That worked for um worked for me. It was certainly part of my style. Um and it was something I really role modeled for my team members and my direct reports and which they then role modeled for their people. So we’re creating a culture of reflective learning and reflective practice and a culture of not knowing and showing up as human beings in a very, very, very human work where we’re absolutely touching the lives of patients and families who are in crisis. We had to tear up the rule book as far as I was, I saw it. And was always asking what would I want if my mom was in that bed? What would I want if my child turned up in the accident and emergency department? How can we find different ways of being and relating and ways of working which are transformational, don’t often cost lots of money if anything? It’s about the heart set, it’s about a cultural mindset, it’s about ways of relating. Um And by building that culture in from the bottom-up and top-down, we really started to see amazing shifts in our work. And it’s one of my highlights of my career. And I was just in the garage and the other day going through my old photographs and when I left for my promotion, my team had gone off to the lab to have a photograph taken. And there’s a picture of them sitting there, it’s beautiful, made me smile and I just thought oh what happy times we had. I was sad to leave them.
Lyssa deHart Well and I think that the other piece that really has arrived is this idea of leadership is a vocation and a privilege, but also a bit of a responsibility, right? Where this willingness to explore ourselves to walk in our client’s shoes, in the sense of the patients that if they’re in that bed or your child was in this bed or your mum in that bed. Is really the sense of of, again, a deep exploration into how we are being in the world as leaders. Not just I’m a leader and therefore I’m the boss of everything, but rather I’m a leader, therefore, I’m the visionary. I’m the one who can stretch past what we know and explore it in a way that allows the team to come with us if the vision is strong enough.
Elaine Patterson Yes, Yeah. And and it it was it’s going back to yes, your technical training is interesting, your qualifications get you through the doorway, whether you’re a leader, a coach, a nurse, a doctor, a paramedic, whatever. They are your absolute starting points from which you then have to move beyond your models, beyond your tools and techniques. You’re embracing them, you’re taking them with you, but you’re adding who you are.
Lyssa deHart Yeah, your humanity, right?
Elaine Patterson Adding in your humanity, you’re adding in your own vulnerabilities. You’re getting rid of your ego to go much more to the level of heart and soul work, which I think all people work is, we might dodge it, we might give it different names and titles but in actual fact, it’s the whole privilege of meeting another human being meeting soul to soul, heart to heart is the place where transformation and possibility and potential can be touched.
Lyssa deHart Yeah. It’s definitely, any time we have the opportunity or really the privilege to be in that close of a relationship with another human being, I agree with you. I mean if we’re having these superficial conversations around like what’s your goal, and we’re only focused on the goal and not how the person is, what their stuff, what is below the surface. What is the lesson that needs to be explored and learned from? I think we run a great risk of, of missing the opportunity to have the deeper conversation. And I really, I know from the journal that I have of yours, there’s a lot around Theory U, can you talk a little bit about how that has then come into the work that you’re doing?
Elaine Patterson Yes. So, so Theory U is part of the work of Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge, and Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers from many years ago with the presencing, the presencing work. And I first um discovered Theory U when I was in my supervision training with the Coaching Supervision Academy, and I thought it was truly fascinating as a way of mapping and orientating yourself to where you are in a conversation. So there was no right or wrong. But where are you? Are you downloading? Are you just stuck with the same conversation with the same thought pattern or are you actually starting to open sense, and let go and go into a place of what I would call the fertile void of possibility. Where you’re really exploring your core, your inner, your source, who you are, what is your work, and how you show up in the world and it can apply to life as well. And then you kind of moving up into the prototyping. Alongside that, I came across the idea that I thought that reflection and reflective learning is the new meta-skill for us today because of the constant invitation, we’re having to adapt, evolve, innovate, reimagine. So alongside that, I sort of got to that point of reflection as, as the new meta-skill. And then I went off to do my research and I interviewed senior leaders as you mentioned in the intro, um there was a small sample but what came from that was um another moment, another threshold moment I think for me, where I discovered that reflection was everything that we kind of read about in books around self-awareness and you know, um how to do something better, or confidence, or how to achieve a goal. It was all off. It was linked to dusty, dusty academia or into logs that switched people off and part of my mission um, is to make reflection fun.
Lyssa deHart Yeah.
Elaine Patterson And available to bring the joy in because we’re, we are wired to learn and unlearn, we, we’re naturally wired. And what I discovered was actually at a meta, meta-level reflection from all these interviews I had is an act of creation. It is about bringing the new into the world, whether it’s a new idea, a new way of talking, and new product, a new anything. But it could also be about reshaping what already exists. Or and it could actually be stopping something or killing it off because that killing off and destruction is also a part of the creativity cycle. So from that, I kind of got this um, strapline of the reflect to create because it seemed as if that was the holding message of the research. Where creativity then becomes the new meta-skill alongside reflection and what then becomes possible with the marriage of these two partners. So my book was originally talking about a marriage, I then shifted into the dance, and then I went to what I picked up with Theory U, also what I picked up around Kubler Ross and the grievance cycles, what they were doing in education, and Theory U um, if I can, if I can say is almost an archetypal change curve.
Lyssa deHart Yeah, yeah. It’s really interesting because it really demonstrates like where you are, and where you want to be, and then you follow the U down to do the exploration. And for myself, what I find with clients is they often want to just leapfrog over the U, but that’s not sustainable change to your point. It’s not transformational change. It’s superficial change that probably won’t last because there’s not that embodied walkthrough. I’m almost like a nordic walkthrough, through the experience that you’re having so that you can come out on the other side with new awareness of your own self.
Elaine Patterson Yes. And it’s the hero or heroine’s journey. It’s coming back with the gift, but it means going through certain challenges or trials and we can make that hard or easy for ourselves. Um, but also, um, the Reflect to Create came out of actually working with clients who went, yeah, I like, I like Theory U, but I don’t know how to put it into practice, I don’t know how to apply it.
Lyssa deHart Right.
Elaine Patterson And so, um, and I, I credit Theory U and on all the originators, there, you know, standing on the shoulders of people before us. But then I started to think how can this then become more interesting, more accessible, more playful, more relevant for the work. And for the conversations I was doing and what could then become my offer into the world. And so that’s how Reflect to Create became the four dance moves and the nine dance steps and I put practices against each of the dance steps to go, we’ll have a go with this and try this if you’re getting stuck here or just play with it lightly in a really invitational way. And it works at both a personal level, whether you’re in a coaching or supervision session, whether you’re working with a team or a board or wide, so it it’s sort of multi-layered um and applicable, I hope across all sorts of different context to be adapted um and to be taken on um for each person’s individual context.
Lyssa deHart Well, and it’s really bringing in the creativity and I mean when we think about adaptivity and just the ability to, to use your framework of dancing, to be able to be present and dancing the moment that we find ourselves. Whether we’re a coach, working with a client, whether we’re a leader working within an organization, whether we’re a person working within an organization, whether we’re in a family, like across the board. And even within our own selves. Like how do we pivot and adjust and adapt to our own changing internal landscape is sometimes as much of an important piece of all of this as anything. And I mean this really in a way leads into the supervision process for coaches or, and I know that it came out of the supervision work around therapists. But it is really transitioned into really exploring with coaches, what’s showing up for them in in their own coaching relationships with themselves, with their clients, the intersection between them and their clients, and the greater systems around them. How do you? How do you? I’m trying to think what the right question here is. I’m not sure I have the right question. So if I don’t, please re-question it for me. But, but how do you explain coaching supervision and the value of it to coaches?
Elaine Patterson Um I think the only way I can ever, um, you can’t explain supervision.
Lyssa deHart Fair enough.
Elaine Patterson There are ways that you can do, but the language is too small for the beautiful rich field is that supervision is and what the gift of a supervisory relationship, which is a coming together of two um to mature practitioners. Adults, in the service of the supervisee learning and being totally open to what might emerge. Uh not knowing where your conversation is actually going to go is one of the most freeing and liberating and fun, um fun experiences that anybody can put them in, themselves in. And I just wish I had had supervision when I was a leader. And that’s why I do believe that anybody who works with people really should be in supervision of some sort of that it’s quite a radical statement.
Lyssa deHart I’m going to back you up because I honestly think that we all need that reflective practice of what’s showing up for us. And so I’m on, I’m on the bandwagon with you. I think it’s a valuable human, um need to have some form of supervision.
Elaine Patterson Yes, because we, we are human, we don’t know what we don’t know. We all have our edges and our triggers. We have our talents and it all can arrive in the space. And that means that we can not be working in the service of our clients despite our best efforts. So we always need a supervisor to help us to polish our own mirrors, to um almost bring us back home. Because we are part of the system. We get torn and pulled um as well as our clients and actually bringing us back into our own resourcing into the remembering of who we are and why we’re doing the work.
Lyssa deHart Yeah, back into our own integrity,
Elaine Patterson Back into our own integrity, coming back into our own humanity, owning our own stuff in a way that role models it for our clients. Being able to touch vulnerabilities, to be with another person. These are all um lifelong inquiries and lifelong practices that we never arrive at. We’re just constantly learning but to have a dedicated space where you can meet with the supervisor either one to one or in group supervision I think is one of the most hopeful, um most life-giving, most joyful, most challenging because it’s not easy to put yourself sometimes in the seat of the supervisee. Um but also it’s a very, um you learn it’s that sense of learning, possibly saying sorry when we’ve got it wrong sometimes. But it’s actually just bringing us back to our own true center so we can go back out into the world and then come back in it knowing that that resource and that support is always there with a supervisor who knows us and gets us and wants the best for us and also won’t collude with us.
Lyssa deHart Yeah. It won’t just be like, yeah, I love you so much, you know, it’s so interesting too because I think it really I mean we started with, you know, the sense of the biases we have when we haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes and those might be good or not so good, right? Like they run the gamut and I think sometimes with our clients, we may even fall in, excuse me, we may even fall in love with our clients so much that we collude with them versus really hold up a mirror and say what happened here? What’s driving this for you? What part of the elephant do you want to walk around to and look at from a different perspective so that you are in a state of self-curiosity and wonder, and also that exploration of what’s going on in this relationship with me and this other human being and all the people that are outside of this experience that we’re having right now.
Elaine Patterson Absolutely. I so look forward to my own supervision. I come away feeling I’ve drunk from another well. I feel nourished um in so many and resourced and revitalized in so many different ways. I don’t think, well I know that I wouldn’t be comfortable, I wouldn’t practice um without it.
Lyssa deHart Yeah. I honestly think also just from an ethical standpoint having supervision, because not every client is an easy, you know, I mean, it’s not everybody is an easy person to support. And so how do we keep our own stuff from being laid upon the stuff that the client brings? Where are those parallel processes where they’re struggling with something that we also are struggling with? Um could be, you know, that sense of imposter syndrome may be, in our confidence is low and our client is bringing it up and it triggers ours and we think, oh, I know how you need to do it. Um Instead of like really being curious and having that capacity to set our own thing to the side so that we can be fully present with another human being. I just, you know, for myself, the richness of supervision has come up for me in the last couple of years. And you and I have had this conversation in the past, but that, you know, I had come from a history of supervision in a therapeutic context, but in a coaching context, I didn’t see at the beginning the value of it until I started getting it. And to your point, there really aren’t words to express what that is. It’s really the felt experience that embodiment of the experience.
Elaine Patterson Yeah. And it’s not a marketing or a sales job. It’s an intuition that something is needed. That draws um as you shared with your own story, you’ve been drawn into the field because you’ve had an intuition that there is something more and different. And to be honest, when I started my training as a supervisor, as a coaching supervisor, I went for the diploma because I wanted to deepen and enrich my own executive coaching practice. I didn’t necessarily want to be a supervisor. And what I found was that it totally enriched my own executive coaching practice. And I fell in love with the whole supervision reflective practice, creative reflection field, which then has almost created another career for me.
Lyssa deHart Yeah.
Elaine Patterson Grateful to it.
Lyssa deHart And I really want to also say that you were the first place that I really saw this, although I have seen it in other places also. But this idea of SuperVision with a capital V. And that idea, it’s really about looking from a kind of an outside, it’s not somebody telling you what to do. It’s really the explorative process that is going on here, SuperVision. Um instead of I’m a supervisor and I tell you what to do. Elaine, this has been fabulous. What are you up to? Um what are you up to at this time that you’d like to share with the listeners?
Elaine Patterson Oh, several, several things. Um I’m working with Karyn Prentice we have, our label, we call ourselves Patterson Prentice Designs. And we’ve been working together um as a creative partnership for about 6, 7 years now. And we’ve done a lot of work out of doors. We’ve supported each other’s writings. We’ve run retreats, we’ve done a lot of webinar masterclasses. And during the pandemic, we birthed new practitioner diploma in creativity, The Rich Tapestry of Your Creativity. So this is about taking what we both sensed and who we are to another level to bring that out into the world. So that’s really, really exciting. And we’re into our second program, hopefully, um at the start of November of 2021. Um, the other piece I’m doing is I’m really thinking about how to bring the books that I’ve already written alive with signature programs either face-to-face, in retreat mode, or as online journaling experiences. So that’s something I really want to start work on in the next year because people have been so generous with the feedback. I’m kind of thinking, let me go back to the next level with this because sometimes I move on too quickly and I feel that now is the time Um to deepen the experience of Reflect to Create in all sorts of different ways. Um and of course I’m writing another book. I’m developing some ideas around what I’m calling at the moment, Wild Soul Supervision. So again, it’s taking my own explorations to another level. Um in terms of the, the richness, the humanity, the soulfulness of this work in a form of meditation to hopefully inspire practitioners to go…
Lyssa deHart I love that.
Elaine Patterson What does that mean? What am I gonna do with that? Oh, don’t like that, let’s move on. And that’s all fine. So again, my style is very invitational. Um and I grow by the writing, I grow by the feedback and it just inspires me to kind of go, oh, okay, I want to…
Lyssa deHart How do I deepen, how do I go into the U again?
Elaine Patterson Let me go to the place of bliss. I love living in the U. Finding, finding freedom. That’s where we are.
Lyssa deHart Well, what a wonderful partnership with Karyn. I think so highly of her also that I think that just makes sense as a beautiful union between the two of you. And Wild Soul. That is, um I love that title. Thank you so much for being on the show. I will have links to your books, also have links to your website, to LinkedIn in the notes below. So people can find out more about your work and thank you so much for being on the Coaching Studio today.
Elaine Patterson Well, thank you. It’s been lovely speaking with you. Thank you so much.

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Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC

Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC


Lyssa deHart ditched her therapy practice to become a Leadership Confidence Coach. Along the way she discovered a passion for professional coaching and wanted to find ways to share that passion with the world. Come join her in discovering and meeting some of the most amazing professional coaches on the planet. Her goal is to inspire coaches. Lyssa is the author of StoryJacking: Change Your Dialogue, Transform Your Life , and The Reflective Coach. Lyssa is an ICF PCC Assessor, Certified Mentor Coach, and budding Coach SuperVisor. Lyssa uses her understanding of the ICF Core Competencies, combined with her knowledge of Neuroscience, to work with people to become extraordinary professional coaches. Let's Go!

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