Sherise Holden joined me today to have a candid conversation about her struggles as a teenage mother and how through hard work and education, she overcame those challenges.
Sherise knows firsthand the struggles that young mothers face which led her to start a nonprofit specifically for teenage mothers. Sherise shares how she went from being homeless to managing multi-million dollar contracts for the federal government. Now she runs her own nonprofit and is on her journey to entrepreneurship.
In this episode, we learn:
- How hard times build character and how character creates confidence
- How to be the role model your kids need
- The difference between non-profit and for-profit businesses
- How to break free from “I don’t know how” syndrome
- How sometimes you just have to “do it afraid”
Sherise Holden is the founder and President of She Rises, Inc. a nonprofit whose purpose is to help increase on-time high school and college graduation rates among teenage mothers. She Rises, Inc. aims to inspire these young women to overcome challenges in their lives, and reach their full potential.
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LaWann Moses 0:01
Welcome back to the more than a mother podcast. This is your host LaWann. Moses, the success strategist that is helping you streamline your systems in business and in life, so that you can create and live out your own unique life story. My guest today is Sherise Holden, who is the founder and president of she rises Inc. She is a native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and a former teenage mother. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. She also possesses a Master of Science in project management, as well as a Master of Business Administration. In her professional career as a certified project management professional, also known as PMP. She manages multimillion dollar projects for the federal government. no stranger to philanthropy. Sherise has spent her life serving others, using her areas of expertise in project management. college preparation and career development. She has inspired mentor and coach young moms and women to rise up. juries talks with us today about her life’s journey, her experience being a teenage mother and how she chose to rise up, overcome her circumstances and become the person she is today.
Sherise Holden 1:22
Being a good mom was showing up for her and doing everything due to lay a solid foundation and also be all models for her versus saying that a celebrity needs to be her role model she saw her mom work hard and putting in the work to give her the best life possible.
LaWann Moses 1:47
Hey Mamas Welcome to the more than a mother podcast where we believe you can pursue your dreams and be a great mother at the same time. I am your host LaWann Moses and I am helping You find the freedom to live. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello and welcome to the More Than a Mother show. This is your host LaWann Moses and I am back with another great episode for you. We are currently in a series where I have some phenomenal mothers that are coming on and joining us and telling their stories and sharing their stories with us. Today I have for you a special guest by the name of Sherise and I’m going to let her go ahead and introduce herself and what she does. Hi Sherise
Sherise Holden 2:41
Hi LaWann How are you? I’m good. My name is Sherise Holden and I am the founder and president of she rises We are a nonprofit organization located in one can be see, we are dedicated to helping reach, inspire, strengthen and empower teen mothers and pregnancies within our community.
LaWann Moses 3:09
That is awesome. That is such a great initiative to have. And I can’t wait to hear more about it as we go more into this interview. But before we get there, as you know it more than a mother, we believe that you can pursue your dreams and be a great mom at the same time. And a lot of times, we fall into these traps where we just see how people present themselves as they are today. And we don’t realize the story that lies behind everything, everything that’s happened to get them to the point that they are at today. So I believe in going backwards to get to the present to get to the now. So everyone has a story to tell, no one wakes up and they are suddenly the person that they are today. If you don’t mind sharing with us, what is that defining that aha A moment that happened in your life that led you on the path that you are on today.
Sherise Holden 4:05
19 years ago I found myself a senior as a senior in high school. And I found out that I was pregnant. I was terrified, completely terrified to tell my mom that I was pregnant and fear that she would kill me that I would not exist anymore. But I pregnancy for months without my mom finding out and I finally bit the bullet and, you know, we talked about it. We came up with a plan that we felt the best option for me was to be able to give the baby up for adoption. And I was okay with that. We then started seeking out a fanny that we felt would be the perfect fit for the baby. developed a relationship with those people and then one day I went into labor imagine that be chosen adopted family was actually in the birth room. The birthing suite with me. They actually held my hand as I was giving birth. And I had a beautiful daughter. And then things started to change a little bit after I held her. I started getting all the touchy feely. And that’s when my mom said, Hey, I think you should keep the baby. And I said, Well, I don’t think that I can do this. The dad was not in the picture did not want to be in the picture. And I had already knew the struggle that my mom had experienced. She was also a teen mother. She had me when she was 16 years 16 years old. And so I didn’t want that for my life.
I you know, I was a senior in high school, I was getting ready for college and all the amazing wonderful things that were about to take place in my life and a baby just didn’t fit into that. But after a little more persuasion mom, with my mother, I suck at the baby and of course The family that we had chosen for the adoption, they completely devastated, completely devastated to my standing that the mother or the potential mother, she could not have children. So this was like her like one of her big chances of actually having the feeling of being a mom. So I felt some guilt in regards to that as well. But my mom promised me that she would be there to support me that we would get through this and all would be well in the world. And so I decided to keep the baby and all was not well in the world. We had some major transitions we actually living in Florida at the time, I realized that you know, majority of my health with my family would be coming from up here in the Washington region.
So I told my mom I said I really need to move back home because living here in Florida, we don’t have support system at all right? So me and my mom, we packed up the car and back to Maryland. And things really just started to fall apart at that at that point. Luckily, I was able to graduate from high school on time with my graduating class, which was like an amazing moment for me with my mom holding my daughter in the audience, just like amazing. But things were changing. I did not have a job. Because my mom and I had just gotten back to town, we really didn’t have a place to live. So we were literally bouncing from one family member’s house to the next. We eventually found a house and this is the embarrassing part of the story. We found a house that you know, someone was renting or whatnot. And so we moved in and everything felt like it was great, but it turned out the guy is renting us the house. He had the rights to do so he didn’t know The house and so gradually started to shut off we didn’t have there was a point where we didn’t have electricity. There was a point in time where we didn’t have running water. Being able to use the bathroom without running water is kind of gross. So I was really hurt by that had eventually found some place for her to go. But there was no place for me to because it’s not just me anymore. It’s just it’s me and my daughter.
And so during that period of time for about three months, I was basically homeless. I had I had no one to go to bounce around from here to there, whoever would have let me fly on their couch for the night or whatnot. I was eventually able to get a part time job at a local beauty supply store. So I felt that was good. I’m happy with my $5 and 25 cents an hour. I felt like I was balling with but I knew that there just has to be something better out there.
And after seven months of really, really trying mom thing out, my daughter was seven months old at the time, I really realized I cannot do this. This is I’m not cut out for this not. And so I had been attending a local church. And so I had scheduled an appointment with the local pastor there to talk to her about adoption options. And so I went to her office, we talked, we came up with a wonderful game plan of how we’re going to transition the out of motherhood, I guess you would call it and figure out what would be best for the baby. And I was fine with that decision. So I went back, caught the bus and went back to my friend’s house staying at the time. And I was listening to the messages on the answering machine. And there was a message From my boss at the beauty supply store, who said, Hey, have to come in today? You know, with everything that’s going on, just take the day off. And I’m like, what is going on what you’re talking about? And so I turned on the dude, that’s when I had discovered that we were under attack with the 911 terrorist attack. And so I sat there just watching the news, just like in total, all all that was happening for me, was my aha moment where I realized, wow, maybe a couple of days or a day or two later, wow. So people have lost their loved ones or son, or daughters or mothers or sisters, cousins, and I have this amazing life here. And I’m trying to give it away because it’s hard. And so that was my aha moment where I said, I’m going to go and I’m going to be The best mom that I could be. And so every year, my daughter and I, who’s now 19, we celebrate 911 as Mother’s Day, because for me, that was the day that I chose to be a mom.
LaWann Moses 11:14
Sherise Holden 11:15
Moving forward, I decided to move in with my aunt uncle, which was a little stressful, but it was a solid place to live. And you know, I had to swallow my pin. If I wanted to live under, in their house, I had to live under their rules. But it was during that time that I was able to in a community college and start working on my degree. I then met another young woman who said, Hey, if you take two more courses and you study business, I can get you a summer internship with the federal government. And so I said, Okay, I’ll do that. And I did in summer. I became an intern. Her Department of Housing and Urban Development, and I knew that was a temporary job. But me being the person that I am, I said I am not going back to Sally’s Beauty Supply not going back to making $5 and 25 cents an hour. I’m just not. And so all summer long I shift but Yes, boss, do you need this? Anything? Anything you wanted, I was there to give it to them. And so that summer, I was the only student that offered it to a full time employee. And so I I’ve been with that agency for the past 18 years. Yeah. So with that agency for 18 years, I actually just transition to a new agency a couple months ago.
During that time, I just wanted to really show up and be a good mom. And so for me, a shin was a big piece of that. Because I knew that you’re not going to make a lot of money not having an education and with today’s society, having a high school diploma is not enough. I was able to reflect on my mom’s education and she wasn’t able to graduate graduate from high school because of me. And so some of her career choices were limited. And so I definitely didn’t want that for myself. So I enrolled in school and I stayed in school for 17 years. 17 years from start to finish. It took me 17 years to finish all my education. In that 17 timeframe, 17 year timeframe, I was able to earn a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees and a project management certification. So to me, being a good mom was showing up for her and doing everything to do to lay a solid foundation and also be a role model to her versus saying that a celebrity needs to be her role model. She saw her mom work hard and putting in the work to give her the best life possible.
LaWann Moses 14:01
I think that’s great. I think that’s great. just bringing up even how long you said that you were in school because at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how long you’re in school because you walk away with that same diploma that someone that may have taken the traditional route, you get that same diploma, whether you’re there four years, 10 years, 17 years, it doesn’t matter.
At the end of the day, you have the same education. So just the fact that you were able to hang in there, and stick in there that long was just amazing. And I know you have mentioned that. You went through some hardships and you felt were feeling embarrassed. And you were homeless at one point in time and just seemed like you were at just some kind of crossroads. So while you were in those moments, what did you discover about yourself as you went through those times?
Sherise Holden 14:54
What I learned about myself was I was capable of doing hard things. Not knowing where you’re going to sleep at night. That’s hard. But I knew that there had to be a life on the other side of that. Not being sure had enough grocery monies to buy her formula or whatever, that was hard, like to the planet did I have to do to meet my end goal?
LaWann Moses 15:20
Right? Yeah, that’s good. Because it is through those hard times that we often learning lessons, it builds our character, we find that strength that we don’t know we had. I mean, we share the similar stories, but being the Teen Mom, I mean, our paths were kind of different. But we both started as teen moms and education was very important to me also. And it was like if I knew if I could control anything, the one thing I could control was my outcome. And I wasn’t going to let any system any person anything stand in my way. I was not gonna be a statistic and it was just education was the way that I knew that that will give Give me a certain level of freedom, I wouldn’t be stuck in a job that I didn’t want to do, I wouldn’t be stuck anywhere. And it just gives you that freedom of opportunity just to be able to move freely and build and build. So that is wonderful. So how do you feel that these lessons has helped you? How do you feel these lessons have helped you as you grown over the years in life in business as you’re working now, these past 19 years? those lessons that you went through early on, how do you feel that has helped you and who you are today?
Sherise Holden 16:35
I feel like it’s made me more confident. Because if I didn’t have those character building days back then I don’t think I would be as confident as I am today. I wouldn’t be as willing to take the risks that I’m taking now. I would be really dependent on others. Show me my worth and my dad because I did it myself. I know that what I’m capable of and what I can do, and I’m very confident in myself.
LaWann Moses 17:00
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yes, as they say, character builds confidence. So yes, that is very, very important. So in the beginning, we were talking about you having your she rises nonprofit. So can you tell me about your nonprofit business that you’re doing right now?
Sherise Holden 17:20
Absolutely. So, obviously, I have a passion and a sore spot for teen mothers. And so I decided to turn my negative situation and my sort of tainted past into something positive to something good. Now that I’m on the other side of life, I want to be able to pour into other young teen moms and show them that there’s a positive and amazing life on the other side of teen pregnancy. So I created one called she rises, and the purpose of she rises is to provide support to teen mothers in the Washington DC metro Baltimore region. And we do that through mentoring, counseling, education assistance, college and career planning, financial literacy, stress management, all of those things that it takes to be a mother in general.
And some of that comes from the things that I did not have the opportunity to experience I’d have someone that was mentoring me, I was not going to counseling. No one really showed me the way of Okay, this is the path that you need to take to go to college and no one showed things. So it was sort of like my my lessons learned in life and I took all of those lessons learned and said, I’m going to create an organization where if I can make the path easier mom where they don’t have to experience some of the hiccups and struggles that I experienced, then let’s do that. That’s exactly what I did. I created an organization, I could local teen mom.
LaWann Moses 19:04
That’s awesome. I just think that is just it’s such a great initiative to have. I mean, it’s not enough of this out here. I mean, I think that, like said that negative connotation around being a teen mom being a teen parent, but it takes people creating organizations because no matter how much people don’t want to talk about, I mean, teen pregnancy, teen parents, they exist, it happens, it still happens.
And it’s not that we’re encouraging people to go out and become parents, but it’s just recognizing that life does happen. And there are gonna be teen parents as there were when we were younger, they’re going to be teen parents now. And I just think it’s important like to do something like that and give that support, especially for those that may not have that support at home and may not be able to rely on the support system around them. So I just think that that is really great that you were able to build something like this.
Sherise Holden 19:56
The other reason why I wanted to start this organization was because I, like I mentioned before, I’m a huge advocate for education and academics. And I feel like once you have no one can take that away from you, but I was absolutely flabbergasted like, wow, when I read recently that said, Only 2% 2% of teen mothers complete college by the age of 30.
LaWann Moses 20:28
Sherise Holden 20:30
Like, oh my god, only 2% What can I do to that number? And I realize, by the grace of God, I am in that 2% but that’s not everyone else’s story. You know, they may have started but then there’s issues that come up with Okay, well, I can’t afford it. Or I want to watch my kid or I don’t have a way to care where that causes them to, to drop out or not. or whatever. And so I said, I want to be a positive force in their life where I can help them remove all of the excuses or, you know, wages that would prevent them from going to school and really finishing. And so my mission and life is to move that meter up. Yeah, one day, the graduation rate for teen moms is like 98.999% or something like that. And I want to be the driving force in that.
LaWann Moses 21:35
Yeah, that’s also I knew it was low, but I had no idea that it was 2%. So, yes, there’s definitely a lot to be done. There’s a lot of work to do. And it’s good when nonprofits pop up and start building community and connecting resources to help make this happen. So what has been the most rewarding part of this journey so far was she rises and the nonprofit?
Sherise Holden 22:06
The most rewarding part for me right now is the private messages that I receive in my inbox on social media where when I’m openly sharing my story or telling people about the organization of people just commenting on the back and saying, Hey, I was a teen mom, and I wish I had something like boom ization that could have helped me along the way. So that sort of further fuels my purpose in life like you know, we always jump into these things sometimes then we’re wondering, should I have done this is the right move, but it sort of just gives me more fuel that yes, I’m walking in my purpose I’m going in the right direction is so amazing to be able to see that what I what I’m doing, it matters and it can be a difference.
LaWann Moses 22:53
Yeah, that makes a big difference and you don’t realize how many people have similar stories to yours. Until You start sharing your story. And I just feel that, I guess that when we start telling our stories, we just empower others to start telling theirs and start making a difference in their community. Because a lot of times we think that we walk through so many things alone and that no one can relate to what we’re going through. But all it takes is one person to share a story that Lexi you know, you have other people saying, oh, my goodness, that happened to me, I experienced this. You see, you could basically read these stories like, wow, I lived that. So I just think that the more we tell our stories, the more we can empower women, the more we can empower other mothers to just get out here and just go after their dreams and goals and just live because it doesn’t matter how you start. It’s all about how you finish. I think that’s great.
Sherise Holden 23:46
Yeah, not only that, but it also helps us fight the stigma. Yes. Oh, you have to be hush hush about it. This is something that you don’t talk about. takeaway that I no longer feel shameful about my story like I tell anybody and everybody, this is what today I always find it funny where if me and my daughter are together, you know, of course we’re 17 years apart. So we I’m a youthful looking, oh, they think that she’s my sister or something like that when I introduced her as my daughter, like, Oh my gosh, like, you could be old and have a 17 year old and it I’m like, I’m not. I’m not, but I’m a great, so thank you.
LaWann Moses 24:35
Yes, I can definitely relate to that. It’s amazing how people’s eyes turn when it’s like, oh, like how old are your kids? Like when my oldest is 19. And their face kind of goes? Like they just can’t believe it. But I mean, yeah, they can go sideways. Yeah, and they want to say something that they don’t know they should say something. So I mean, I just find that always interesting.
And I also find it like in those situations because I know I run it. into it a lot of times at work where you hear certain conversations happen, where we’re talking about just that stigma and that statistic, and that just how people think it’s such a negative thing and you hear conversations happen. And then you’re like, Well wait, I was a teen mom, or you just throw it in there. And it kind of just caught everyone’s face just kind of stop. So they’re looking around like, Oh, well, how did you get here? Like, you know, those are the thoughts that are going in the back of their mind. So I just think it’s great to just continue, like what you’re doing with the nonprofit to help build up other teen moms so that they can get to this place to where they’re sitting in the room. Shocking people like yes, I was a teen mom. But look, I’m sitting here right next to you doing the same thing you’re doing and just as successful, so that’s great.
Sherise Holden 25:47
Not only sitting next to you and doing the same thing, but most likely I’m doing it even better. Right, exactly.
LaWann Moses 25:54
Right. I knew I had to work extra hard to get here.
Yes, doing everything is excellent. So yes, that is so true. What is one piece of advice that you would give to a mom that may be listening right now who is struggling to find a way to pursue her dreams and goals while taking care of her family in her other responsibilities?
Sherise Holden 26:25
I would tell her to do it afraid to step out on faith, because you’re not going to have all the answers to how am I going to get there I always say that I used to suffer from I don’t know how syndrome, where like some of my issues of perfectionism is that I will not step out and do something if I don’t know that I can actually complete that. And that sort of held me back from starting profit. It should have been started years ago. I was really, really great because I had the I don’t know how syndrome. And so because I didn’t know all of the answers, I really afraid to step out there.
So I would encourage any mother or any woman to step out there, and do it afraid. Do it when you’re scared, do it when you’re alone. It’s okay. And that’s what we have Google for Google is your friend, you can talk anything that you want to know in life. If you use Google. Yeah, a lot of my business was me trying to figure it out with googling things to death. And the answers there, you just have to look for it.
LaWann Moses 27:35
Yes, thank God for Google. Because in the world of the internet, I mean, it’s such a great thing, to have access to just like the world at your fingertips to where you can figure out how to do anything and make it happen. And that is just great advice to do it afraid because I’m a perfectionist just like you. So a lot of things that I’m doing now today, have been like six years. in the making, because I would get stuck in that call it stuck in the planning process and just that perfection trap and just want everything to look right and everything can line up and I’m just one of those people that I need to know the outcome before I do it, but it’s like you’re not going to know the outcome if you don’t do it, but I just like this whole spontaneity all that that has never been my thing. But I’m just glad that over this past year that I have been living by that doing it afraid and just doing it and see what happens. Because I mean, it does work out and you figure out the details later. So that is great advice. So for she rises, do you guys accept? Do you accept volunteers? How are you operating within the nonprofit right now?
Sherise Holden 28:49
Well, for the listeners who don’t know what a nonprofit is, a nonprofit organization is just like any other company. We do take money. We do make money, but it’s Is that all of the earnings that we bring in, we pour it back into the organization, traditional organization, a company such as target then takes the money that they’ve received and pay their they pay their employees or they have thoughts, dividends and all those things like that. So with a nonprofit, take all of the money and we pour it right back into the organization.
So we hourly volunteer based, you know, you sort of get the feel good when you’re volunteering and you’re helping. So that’s the best way to have people come in and volunteer their time, have a specific skill set that I might not have that they can provide to the young woman’s, for example. You might be like an expert in financial literacy, where you work in the banking industry expert, so you came in and volunteered and agreed to teach a course on financial literacy would be amazing. Or if you have a passion for helping with academic, you could come in and a tutor. Or if you just want to take on more of a big sister type, well, you could come in as a mentor as well.
LaWann Moses 30:16
That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
Sherise Holden 30:20
So another way that you could support she rises is by becoming a monthly sponsor. With like all nonprofits and charities. We are 100% donation based so our operations solely runs because of the financial stuff that we receive from our supporters.
LaWann Moses 30:44
Awesome. So do you have a donation link or is it on your website? What’s the best way that someone can make a donation?
Sherise Holden 30:55
Absolutely, of course, you can always go to website sherises.org to make a donation or become a monthly sponsor. We’re actually running a campaign right now pay 20 campaign. We’re just asking donor get $20 donation for 12 months in the year 2020, which will go a long way in supporting a local teen mom.
LaWann Moses 31:19
That’s awesome. Do you have any exciting events or anything coming up soon?
Sherise Holden 31:28
Yes, so I am super, super excited to announce that we will be hosting a career development workshop. It’s actually open to all teen girls, not just teen mom. The agent ages of 15 and 21. So if you live in the Washington DC greater region, if even if you live in Florida, just take a bus. It’ll be fine. But the purpose of that workshop is to provide career development skills. There’s going to be mock interviews, career planning, dress for success, how to write a resume and cover letter, the do’s and don’ts of social media because that really can’t protect you getting a job or even losing your job and just things like that to help young woman’s get themselves together to prepare for the work life.
LaWann Moses 32:19
And when is this event happening?
Sherise Holden 32:24
This event will be held on April 25 2020, from 9am to 12pm, and Bowie, Maryland.
LaWann Moses 32:32
That’s awesome. We’ll be sure to put those details and links in the show notes. And if someone wanted to get in contact with you to volunteer to be a part of your event or just to hear more about she rises, where can they find you?
Sherise Holden 32:50
Well, they could do a couple of things they could first go to our website, which is sherises.org. Or they could shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check us out on social media at She Rises Incorporated on Facebook, and SheRisesNonprofit Instagram.
LaWann Moses 33:24
That is wonderful. So I thank you Sherise for taking the time to join me and share your story with my audience. And also tell us about your great, she rises nonprofit and I just can’t wait to see all that is going to happen with this organization and everything that you have going on. I thank you for joining us today.
Sherise Holden 33:48
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited. I’m excited about more than a mother. This is an amazing podcast. I feel so honored that you had me on your show.
LaWann Moses 34:02
Oh, thank you so much. So it was just great talking to you. And we’ll be sure to have you back in the future when you can tell us all the greatness that has become of your nonprofit and whatever other direction you decide to go in in the future. Thank you.
Thank you. It was such an honor to interview Sherise today. Unfortunately, since the time that we recorded this episode, and the global pandemic that we are currently facing, Sherise has had to put her workshop on hold and it will be rescheduled for a later date. However, I still encourage you to head over and check out she rises nonprofit, and all the great things they’re doing for young moms. Sherise’s organization is truly about giving back to the community. And I look forward to all the greatness that will become a she rises incorporated As always, you know, I love to stay connected. Head over to LaWann Moses calm so that you can become a part of such a great community. Things are going things are moving. This train is just on full blast. And I want you to be a part of this journey every step of the way. Head over to LaWannMoses.com and join my community. And don’t forget to leave a review a five star rating and share this episode on your social media to let everyone know of the greatness that you have found in the more than a mother podcast.
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, head over to LaWann Moses comm I’d love for us to stay in touch. Make sure you leave your email address so I can send you inspiration tips and the latest updates. Or if you prefer, text the word more. That’s MORE to 3024404632. We have some great things coming up and I don’t want you to miss a thing. Thanks again, make sure you subscribe and leave a review. Until next time, keep pressing because victory is yours.
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