Blair and Alana talk about what it’s like to lose their father. This is part of their story and they are resilient. 

Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised.

About the Guest: 

Alana Kaplan is a compassionate mental health professional based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She’s a child and family therapist at a Winnipeg-based community agency, and a yoga teacher. Fueled by advocacy, Alana is known for standing up and speaking out for others. Passionate about de-stigmatizing and normalizing mental health, Alana brings her experience to The Resilience Project team, navigating the role one’s mental health plays into telling their story.

Engaging in self-care and growth is what keeps her going and her love for reading, travel, and personal relationships helps foster that. When she’s not working, Alana can often be found on walks, at the yoga studio, or playing with any animal that she comes across.

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Transcript
James Robilotta:

Welcome to diner talks with James. slide into the booth and let's have conversations we never want to end with friends. We never want to leave over food we probably shouldn't be my friends welcome to another episode of diner talks with James.

James Robilotta:

I'm James and I'm super pumped to be hanging out with you all today. In the diner, y'all I'm thinking about starting a merch line would you be interested in merch is that some you're intrigued by like mugs and other dinette paraphernalia? You know, maybe a nice fork. Anyway you think about it right? You want to you know, what do you need? You want a sweatshirt? Let's talk about it. Y'all shoot me a message. Let me know if you're interested if you'd be intrigued by having a little bit of diner love in your life, but I'm thinking about starting something because I think it'd be fun just to just to spread some love about the cool conversations that we've been able to be a part of here in the diner. Alright, job. Let's get to this week's episode coming up to the diners, my man, Joshua rebetol. He is the creator and founder of changing minds, mental health based curriculum. And the I'm possible project Josh has been a friend for a few years, but he's one of those dudes that we only catch up so infrequently, but it doesn't matter because it's immediately connection. And I'm just excited for you all to get to hang out with him in the 10 years that he has spoken about suicide prevention and mental health are 400 organizations across the US, Canada and UK and Australia. He has truly impacted lives. He's also a stand up comic, you might be able to tell that we'll see. I'll be the judge of that. I'll tell you that. He's a professional actor and author of eight books. That's cool. He lives in Philadelphia loves to cook and recently grew a pretty mediocre looking mustache. I agree. And I'm excited to bring my man out right now. Shout out to my boy Joshua Rivedal

Joshua Rivedal:

James man, the mustache. Say hello. It's getting smaller and smaller. It's going from here to here. So we're like you caught me on it on a decent day.

James Robilotta:

Okay, good, man.

Joshua Rivedal:

Also, I just want to say like I'm down for your merch. Like I'm hoping for a James robe. A lotta airfryer actually. Yep, yep. And measuring cup. said that's what I'm here for. That's my vote.

James Robilotta:

We're gonna do it. I mean, we gotta you know these these places are put put your logo on anything. So

Joshua Rivedal:

this this diner, diner talks come on, I can

James Robilotta:

think of mozzarella sticks while we're in the diner. It's perfect. Oh, baby. Yes. Josh, how you doing brother? You do a well Oh,

Joshua Rivedal:

yeah. Mostly, I mean, to be to give you an honest answer. There's ups there's downs, but like, mostly life is really good. Like, there's lots of beauty and I'm freaking grateful dude.

James Robilotta:

Yeah, I love that brother. We're gonna get into some of those ups and some of those downs. But you know, the show's called the diner talks with James so we got to we got to kick it off the way we do. And I need to know man, do you have a favorite late night? Guilty pleasure and you know, maybe maybe someone who eats a little healthier nowadays, you know, like Well back in the day I did this but you know now I'm just eating like low fat popcorn. You know? I don't know whatever you doing? what's your what's your favorite late night move?

Joshua Rivedal:

Just popcorn kernels. That's it. That's my no a macrobiotic now. A lot of chewing. Um, I, you know, I I've taken to lately in advance, I make pesto. And so I'll like dip like, pretzels or like veggies and the pesto because it's a little I mean, there's a lot of fat in that and like cheese, like nuts and basil, but like that's I'm trying to eat healthier these days. But it used to be like chips, chips, chips, man. I love me some chips and I got to stay away because some things are addictive. I'm gonna chip on a car.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. Did you have a favorite flavor of chip or brand of chip? We're not brand loyal here in the diner. So feel free to share oh man kettle

Joshua Rivedal:

chips. There's there's actually there's a great, there's a great ship you can only find in Cincinnati in the Cincinnati region. I forget what it's called. But it's this like sort of sweet spicy barbecue chip and it's crunchy. And they make a really baller for drying too. And I had it delivered to my house one time I was like, I'm gonna order these and I thought I was getting bags of chips and it was a big like bag like a garbage bag full of these chips in a box. And it took me a little while to finish them but I'm gonna take this box next to my bed

James Robilotta:

yeah

Joshua Rivedal:

I didn't get the pork rinds away because I was starting to develop high blood pressure. I'm serious. So like that was sort of the impetus for me to start eating a little healthier. Actually a couple years ago.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. I love the what's the level up for the poor crown that like the cheap drone? Right, it's got someone's got the little fat nuggets on it as well. Those are delicious. Oh, yeah.

Joshua Rivedal:

Sometimes they have it. It's cheap. You're wrong. Compeller which is just a little still. They still got a little bit of the hair on it, but it's still fried and delicious.

James Robilotta:

Is that true? The belly pillow hair

Joshua Rivedal:

is a little bit that was that crunchy? Was that's the name of my band. Crunchy boss.

James Robilotta:

For bird Yeah, very funny on Spotify. Poker. Chips. Chips is always a classic move. But we got to come back to this pesto move, brother. First of all, most people have pesto laying around like that. So that's amazing that you're investing in pine nuts the way you are. But it is a it is. I don't know if I've ever used pesto as a condiment. But now I'm wondering why I've never used pesto as a condiment. Now like I love it. Yeah, it's outrageous. Yeah, didn't

Joshua Rivedal:

take like you could take like non or like pizza or something heated up a little bit like dip, you know, some carrots, whatever. It's all good. And I don't use pine nuts because they're crazy expensive. So I use like cashews and pecans. Just a little pro tip for the diner folks out there.

James Robilotta:

Wow, look at this in cash. We have already leveled up out here. The Italian me is crying that you don't use pine nuts, but that's fine. I suppose you could put a whole bunch of other things in there.

Joshua Rivedal:

You can make it whatever you want. Your pesto James.

James Robilotta:

That's fair. Yes. And that's the title of my book. It's a work in progress. The way that you live currently in Philly, great town. Nom. Is that where you were born and raised? You raised it in eastern Pennsylvania.

Joshua Rivedal:

Close by Trenton which is like 45 minutes a little northeast. So like, like hood, like hood lights? You know? So like diet hood is where I grew up in Trenton. Yeah, yeah. And

James Robilotta:

I lived reading some stuff. It seems

Joshua Rivedal:

some stuff and it's not going to talk about it. Um, yeah, we don't talk about it. But I grew up there till I was 12. We lived we kind of we know we were like kind of in poverty. Like we were like an inch away from government cheese, no shame, you know, whatever. And it was five of us in a one bedroom apartment. And we did our best but that was that was Trent and we got out. We got out.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. Where'd you fall in the lineup of? of everybody in there? Where were you age wise?

Joshua Rivedal:

Oh, the middle. So I was like, sister and I are Irish twins. She's a year older. And then my brother is almost five years younger. So I'm like, definitely the middle kid, huh? Yeah. They forgot about my birthday a couple years and no, like. And then what's funny is I told my mom about this not to like call her out. But just to say, hey, remember when this happened? She's like, I don't remember. I was like my birthday again. Or the two times you guys forgot about it, like middle child.

James Robilotta:

Classic middle to end if my if my wife was in the room right now she will be snapping her fingers because she loves to talk about being the middle child and the trauma there. And

Joshua Rivedal:

there is some I mean, there there certainly could be I feel like sometimes that falls under like astrology and like, what do you call it? Myers Briggs? Or it's like you listen to the things that you want to hear. You know, it's like, yeah, of course. I like walks on the beach. Of course, I'm an introvert. Like, of course, I'm a middle child. So it's like, it's for me. It's like balancing awareness versus like, what do you what's the real story versus what you're, you know, saying? Because, I mean, there are some like funky middle traumatic things that happen but it's also like wonderful stuff, too. That can be used as assets later in life. I'm a nurturer. You know, yeah, good

James Robilotta:

thing. Yeah. I agree. Sounds like the glass is half full over there brother. I like that.

Joshua Rivedal:

This glass is going well. Coffee baby. I can't read metaphors by the way

James Robilotta:

the the, you know, growing up you said close to you know, close to the poverty line. And and then you said you you were able to get out. What does that mean? Like what what shifted and that that enabled you all to whatever get out means to you?

Joshua Rivedal:

Yeah, so, um, I think I think the mindset was always like, like the poverty of that experiences like temporary. So it wasn't a mindset as much as it was just this is where we're at. But I think a couple of things that we as kids got older, so my mom was able to contribute in terms of joining like, the paid workforce, I mean, we were our workforce in and of our selves as three children, right. I mean, that's, that's a challenge. But so that and then we, when I was a kid, my parents bought a piece of property in a place called Jackson, New Jersey, which is Six Flags, great adventure, if people are familiar with that. And it's relatively close to the Jersey Shore. And so we bought it on the side of town, that there was nothing and it was Sandy. And, and we built, you know, but we didn't get to live there right away. Because the surveyor that survey the property for my parents, said, for some reason that it was okay, like, we built like 50 feet of our house on somebody else's property. And there was a lot of litigation and the surveyor died, you know, during the process. And it was just that it was just a hot mess. And so we were able to and being in Scotchgard poverty, we didn't have the money to sort of finish that process and to do the legal stuff. But finally, sort of all these factors came about monitoring workforce, things changed. And so we moved out there. And, and then at my did some of my dad's job, he's like a civil servant. And, and pay freezes kind of let you know, they kind of let that up and stuff. So there's all these different factors. And then, for me, I think, you know, it was also like, age 19, I left home like I did a year of community college. And that was me getting out of that, you know, so that's what happened there.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Y'all got put through the wringer there, the surveyor died. And it's just like, a tragedy, there is not a comedy of errors. I mean, look, I guess we could laugh a little bit at it. But in the moment, that's, that's horrific, especially to some people that are trying to do the right thing and do right by their family and by their lives, that's really frustrating to have those kinds of errors go against you.

Joshua Rivedal:

Yeah, I can imagine that. And I think, you know, to to read, because my dad was really kind of unwell. And it didn't, I didn't, you just don't know these things. As a kid, you don't have these words. But he was frustrated, he was angry. He was abusive, physically, somewhat physically and emotionally. And I and he also had like, something called retinitis pigmentosa. So he couldn't see beyond this. And his vision was limited by so he's dealing with a physical disability. So I think all these frustrations and things contribute to him just to being wildly unhappy. And so I can, as much as I don't like that man too much, who's he's not with us anymore. I hear you say that. And that's tragedy of errors and stuff. It just made me sort of have like an aha moment. Like, here's another element of empathy I can have for that person. You know, so thank you for that, James.

James Robilotta:

Well, certainly not my intention. But if it was helpful, that's beautiful. Yeah, I mean, forgiveness is is your own process for sure.

Joshua Rivedal:

Dude, I say that all the time in forgiveness is not for you, for the other person is for you.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Man. Exactly. The so when it comes to when it comes to young Josh, what what was, what was he like? Well, what were what were some things that you were into, what do you want to be when you grew up? Like, was it always stand up comedy and talking about mental health prevention? You know, a lot of young kids think about that. What were some things that you were into man, and what do you want to be when you grew up?

Joshua Rivedal:

I wanted to be Dr. Pepper. No, I, in a hamster train. You know, I really, I think, you know, my first you know, really my, there's two things like, my first exposure to really anything, because we went to church so much like three times on Sundays, three services, one on Wednesday, and then my parents are involved all the time, during the week. And it's a bigger story than that. But I was like, okay, like, initially was like, preacher, and then I was like, Oh, that, to me, that was like, this kind of feels lame. Like, I'm seven. This is not what I'm here for. And I really like I sang in church, and I started and I saw my parents acting in church. And then like, I started acting. And so I really wanted to be a singer and an actor. And I pretty much follow through with that. For a good time. Yeah, yeah. And so that was really exciting. And in fact, I want to show you this because I've always been very creative. But when I was nine, I don't know if he gets really kind of hard to see because I think there's like a, I made this I was cross stitching. Like, I've always been very creative. And like, I just I needed an outlet. And I was, I think it was if I could go back and look, I'd be like maybe that was for the anxiety. Maybe that was further that I didn't have the words for but I've made this this thing. It's like a five by eight or something. I'm like I just spent like ages nine and 10 Cross stretching and singing and being a little jerk. I talked a lot of smack for a young kid that had no reason to be talking smack Sure. Yeah.

James Robilotta:

Sometimes the wittiness is just coming out, though. At times. Yeah, I mean, first of all, cross stitch is beautiful. You certainly don't not associate cross stitch with a nine year old. I don't think I barely had enough patience. Like, I was like, no Velcro. I don't have patience to tie my shoes, right, let alone to sit down and do something as laborious and repetitive as cross stitch now.

Joshua Rivedal:

Yeah, no, it's like that. And I and I stocked up on life alerts, you know, the, like, I became a 90 year old grandma, like, at the age of nine, like it worked for me, though. Yeah, the nice shawl and everything.

James Robilotta:

Yeah, for sure. For sure. You said that sometimes the anxiety? Maybe, you know, you weren't you weren't self aware enough? Or had the vocabulary or the whatever enough to to self diagnosis anxiety, but looking back at it is that is? Is that what you would call it?

Joshua Rivedal:

I would, I certainly would, I can, I can actually both depression and anxiety I can, knowing what I know now and being such a student of mental health and mental illness and the work that I do, I can definitely look back and see elements of these, these conditions developing and, and, and at times worsening, but not having the words, right. So I like and even just how I move like, you know, and how you know, me, you know, you Rome is a baby, but he's he's came out with this personality, that's maybe a little bit of you a little bit of Tina, but he's his own person. And, and so and I think you know that for me too. And so just the way I move and I've always been kind of a fidgety person. And so that's part of it. But then you exacerbate you know, some of these things that we're born with, with environmental things, like you have a parent who's yelling all the time, you know, you live in an environment that's small, and it's different than what other people are doing where they have a little more room. You can't go outside, I was very acutely aware, in my system, things weren't of them talking about their financial issues, which we had when I was a younger child. And so that kind of made me feel insecure about the state of, of where of security really, and then just also like, being yelled at and things like that. Like there's an internal thing. I think there's a survival element to that, like, oh my gosh, if I don't tone that down, or figure that out, or get them to stop, like I might not survive, you know, so it's very primitive. In a sense, it's that amygdala in the back that screaming, protect me. Right. So I definitely think there's an element some elements of anxiety, as that little Josh for sure.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. Hell yeah, dude. Hell yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's powerful to hear you talk about it and recollect that it and you know, it's also it's so it's always interesting talking about childhood, you know, we'll call it trauma, I'm not sure if that's how you identify it, but I'll call it that and feel free to, to change that word to what's more appropriate. But it's very interesting to think about how that has then in turn, shaped who you are today. And, and the work that you're doing today, with with being in such a mental health advocate, but in the moment that some of the goal was, as you said, the goal was survival. The goal was, let's figure it out. The goal was that, you know, I also hear you, you know, telling me that you had great listening skills and that you were a bit of an empath, right that you kind of like felt and you carried some of your, what your parents were going through or trying to do, or whatnot. And you said, your siblings were a little less aware of that. And to be so blissfully ignorant in that what sounds like would have been lovely. But that just wasn't a choice that your brain allowed you to make. And, yeah, that's powerful, man. And then so when you all moved over to Jackson, and that sounds like it's more like high school age now. What were you like in high school? Were you were you constantly looking for a way to get out? Were you super involved so that you got to go home later? Or like, what what did that look like?

Joshua Rivedal:

Yes, all of that. Yeah. I always been that way. Even you know, even before that, but this was high school was the first time I went to public school. We went to the school that the church ran, which is always a great recipe. But we went to that I went to that school up through eighth grade with the exception of fourth grade. I was homeschooled. But high school so yeah, I was finding myself like I just kind of gotten out of this very sheltered environment. Then I realized there's this whole other world of other people and ideas and things and, and I clung to what I knew only because there's only what I knew, even if I didn't agree with it. And so I remember being on the football team as like 15. And like trying to proselytize some of these kids like what what? It didn't help that I was like five foot two and like 110 pounds and like I was I didn't go through my growth spurt yet. So I was like, Who is this like twig who can't play Who's telling us all about the good news? Like so that is how it started. But then I started to grow and, and I was finding extracurriculars. And so I did, I did the plays, I did the musicals. And I, you know, anything artsy and creative, and and it got to the point where like, that even took over. And that superseded with the academics, and I didn't appreciate the learning side. And I was just like, This is my outlet, and I look back at it, I'm like, that was my gang. You know, like, that was my tribe. Because he would he would have gang members and organized crime, but what are they they're looking for camaraderie, they're looking for safety and security, etc. Right. And so, you know, and I've spoken to juvenile detention centers in which children justice, the justice system, and, and I see myself there, I can easily see even though I don't, you know, look and sound like a lot of the young people who are there, I see that. So I feel so very fortunate to have found those places. So I was growing, I was learning. And I knew at a certain point, I was like, I'm getting I'm getting, I also had a job, I got a job during the summer working at Six Flags. It's like the photo guy at the front of the park. And I did a few other things as well. And so summertime was work. And then senior year was was working on the weekends, and sometimes in the evening, so is anytime that I could be away from home, I'd be away from home. And so it was like get a job, get a car. So you so you can go where you want and do what you want, and pay for all that stuff. And then show business is going to be your escape, it's going to be your way out. And so initially, like I mean that now I do showbusiness work, kind of combined with mental health work and or for some societal reason and or, you know, to do it for work, work. But initially, it was like escapism, it was like this is this is the thing that's going to take me away from this place. And it's grown. It's changed. But yeah, so

James Robilotta:

yeah, in musical musical theater, there's always that they call it the Want song, where there's that that moment that the the protagonist often is kind of like, this is what I need, right? Like, I'm not going to give away my shot from Hamilton or I want to be a part of this world. And you know, and Little Mermaid like, you mean, we know the big, the big one songs and a lot of Disney movies and plays and stuff like that. And I do a lot of improv comedy. And musical improv, they talk about how you need to find your want. And the want isn't just like, well, I want to do theater, or I want a new buddy, or I want to do this. It's that deeper. Right? It's like well, why do you want to do theater? Why do you want the bike? What does the bike represent? What is the theater represent? What is the work represent now and so to hear you, you know, blatantly name that escapism was was the what was the drive is powerful? In in your world as you've, you're still you're close with your siblings now. Correct now? Yeah, yes, now is is in recalling your childhood. And maybe there's some that y'all don't touch with a 10 foot pole? I'm not sure. But in recalling your childhood, kind of going back to that point where it's like, I noticed this and my siblings were ignorant to it. As you all talk about your experiences growing up. You know, how has that been in processing? Is it as it turns out, everybody kind of saw it? Or were you just the only one who was observant? Or were you the did you take the brunt of a lot of it?

Joshua Rivedal:Thanksgiving of I want to say:Joshua Rivedal:

but, you know, to be in my early 30s And to sort of start to recognize that I experienced emotional and physical trauma abuse from my dad. And then to be able to name it and then to be able to Talk about it in a room with people who also experienced well Oh, I didn't actually know, I know, he was pretty horrible emotionally to my sister. And I felt that my brother never got any of it. But they were around longer than I was. And it turned out that most all of this stuff that happened, it started to happen as we got a little older. And it happens when my mom was at work, because they kind of worked opposite. And so like set, like some of the, like, the bigger physical side of things. And so naming that and talking about it, for me was incredibly healing, to be able to say that and, and I also know, too, that often men don't deal with their abuse, if at all, and on average, until their mid 40s, and women in their mid 30s. So I feel like, you know, I have, and I'm still processing and growing and learning from it. And there's other elements to to expand upon and to learn from and to dig deep. And I mean, even the past couple of weeks, I'm like, Oh my gosh, this, you know, but to have that 10 year jump on the average, and then to be able to share that in some of my presentations, and to be able to share that with the people I care about and be able to share that with people who are struggling and say, Hey, like, this is what happens when you're what to your brain, when when you experienced this, right. And you might not experience all of these things, but you're 30 or 40 or 50 or 18, that this could be a predictor of why you know, you're experiencing cardiopulmonary disease, or why you're, you're more inclined toward addiction or substance misuse, or suicidal ideation or whatever, or elements of all of those, right. And so it's but it's, it also means it's not set in stone, or a death sentence or stone, really, it's something that we can learn about and grow from, and use to our advantage to, to know these things. Right. So, but anyway, back to my siblings, you know, it's because they deal with it in their own way. And I found out that my brother was physically abused, you know, and beaten a little bit and, and my sister was less so but the emotional scars that I see from her are pretty big, you know, and we've talked and all of us have talked about that in different ways. And we all have different we, you know, I wrote a play called The Gospel According to Joshua, and then became kicking my blue jeans in the book, which became part of the the major chunk of the work that I do on campuses. And but I always say like, if we were all playwrights, you know, we have three different plays, for sure. Yeah.

James Robilotta:

Which is fascinating, right? The three people could come out of a situation with three completely different plays, but at the same time, it makes sense. Is, I appreciate you sharing what you have with us, brother, I know. It's not not not stuff that just rolls off the tongue now and is it's, it's really it's important to hear, it's powerful to hear. And I think it's also cool, because, you know, as speakers, you and I, we're not necessarily trying to, I would love to shield people from stuff and protect people from things. But that's an unrealistic goal right now. I'm like, and but I think what you just articulated was powerful, where it's like, because of the work you do. You have, you're on the head of the curve. Right. And that's, that's why one of the main reasons I think we do the work we do is that we want people to be able to catch it earlier. Right here, the warning signs, here are the things and, you know, and obviously, I talked about leadership, I also do a little bit of stuff around mental health, particularly with men, but that No, nearly not nearly to the extent of what you do. But even in some of the leadership work, right, it's like, let me share this story. So that you could try to catch yourself from being fallen into some of these pitfalls of leadership a little bit quicker. And, and so it's a real gift, that you have to be able to articulate what you have been through what you're going through. And as a way to help others try to catch it a little bit quicker and themselves as well.

Joshua Rivedal:

Thank you, man, I appreciate that. And, you know, something just came to my mind just just as as well. It's sort of a through line, but I just want to call attention just for a moment and we could shift back to but James, you're a really great facilitator and listener and a validating force and you're just really great at this and and I see it coming up in your and how you present and how you hold space with people and I just feel really seen and heard and I just want to just call attention to that while we're alive. Yeah.

James Robilotta:

Much more much love. Yeah, I do. I do see you. And yeah, like is it like I said early. Early on in the intro. We don't spend a lot of time together but I've always felt drawn to you. And so yeah, much respect brother man, thank you for the love I will I will take that compliment and not try to flip it which is not easy for me to do anyway. So yeah, so I'm wondering you know what were some of the roles that you had you know, I was I was a theater kid right I was the waiter in Havana and Guys and Dolls right I was all the way to being Billy Bigelow in and carousel, which is a fascinating mental health role in itself, right delete, delete character commit suicide. Spoiler alert. But the but, uh, yeah, so there's a whole bunch of roles that I've that I've gotten to do. Now what what were some of your highlights?

Joshua Rivedal:

Oh, man, first of all, I'm having a hard time not singing Kara's already now I'm like Hello, it's coming by gum you can I'm having a real hard time it is right now. James. I really wanted to sing some Beauty the Beast before too I was like the I Want song like town in a quiet anyway. I love your

James Robilotta:

mother you can go do I don't add it so

Joshua Rivedal:

I saw I was in high school. I'll tell you my high school stuff. So it was rusty Charlie and Guys and Dolls who sings? He's the he has nothing else to do in the show. I mean, it's unless chorus but it's he sings few for tin horns. So he's one of the three that starts

James Robilotta:

here. Paul Revere here.

Joshua Rivedal:

And so mine was what was his name his epitaph he wins by a half according to this year in The Telegraph, and it's sort of this you know, around you can do. That's it. That's it. I was like, wait a minute, wait a minute, my character would never seen this. My motivation. And my second year I was Cornelius and Hello Dolly, which was a really fun role. And I did my best friend was my was Barney. He was my sidekick. So that was fun. We did I we had a separate we had a drama teacher who turned who was separate from the musicals and cheat sheet turned Young Frankenstein into a play. And I played like just a whole bunch of different characters and that was really fun.

James Robilotta:

No Brooks, the legend.

Joshua Rivedal:

Oh my gosh, that guy. I saw many Chinese restaurant in LA a couple years ago. I was like, ah a Danny and Danny Zuko and Greece. Nice dude. And they're like super ensemble in Wizard of Oz. And then I started doing like, I started doing like a ton of community theater after that. Or during like senior year and then and I did I did like, West Side Story twice. I think I did Joseph twice. Camelot, My Fair Lady carousel fiddler. The Miracle Worker played the hearing aid. No, I played the brother. It was an avant garde production. And then and then that year, that year at age 19. Towards the end of that year of college, I started auditioning professionally, and it was horrible. I was like a stand in saying kind of like I didn't act these songs at all and I got a role in a summer stock here making 150 bucks a week doing what's the Footloose? The the the bumbling Wheeler Willard and then also sound and music I was Rolf the

James Robilotta:

crunch the brother.

Joshua Rivedal:

The local newspapers said my portrayal of Ralph was a handsome and sympathetic Nazi. Which is like as you might be a poor choice of words. Like what thanks. And and something else? And that was kind of how things started. But yeah, I mean, I, I still love theatres. It's, it's one of my first it's probably my first love. So

James Robilotta:

that's a rush, man. It is such a rush. That's why I started doing improv, you know, I didn't really have the time to to be a part of a full theater production or didn't make the time to let me let me name it correctly. And so but improv improv gave me a little bit of taste of this being onstage and creating with people together and it's a different fun muscle to work also than theater but now but still. Yeah, it's that's a that's incredible, man. That's awesome. So fun. No, yeah. So you go to community college for one year. You go to community college for one year shake hands with the dean keep a portion and then what's what's the move after Community College?

Joshua Rivedal:s juggling all of that stuff.:James Robilotta:

Which is so much to juggle right here. I mean, yourself, even in that, in that, I mean, New York City is not cheap to live in either jersey. And it's nice to you got a roommate, but still, it's still hard and waiting tables is what it is. Now, you're no stranger at that point in your life to living with less. Right. But it doesn't mean that that's the way you want to be right. And so, you know, and the auditioning process in is cutthroat. Right? You have to get used to the word know, a lot. And that's hard. Yeah, that's such a tough time. How did you how did you combat that?

Joshua Rivedal:

Not Well, I'm not well, I didn't have I mean, I had these tools, but I didn't know about them, like the mental health tools, inquisitive tools, the mental health tools, the resource tools. And so I was doing it on my own. So I would, I would, you know, I would cope by avoiding you know, I would work work work, work, work, doing whatever sometimes it was busy work. You know, I at times, I was never like getting naked under a bridge drunk. But it was like, although, no, but it but

James Robilotta:

to me the bridge,

Joshua Rivedal:

no. Bridge Too Far. But i There were times when I was definitely misusing alcohol, for sure. Just to avoid and things like that. So I would say not super well, like I wasn't dealing with like I didn't, I kind of learned how to deal with rejection a bit. But I think I was keeping busy and I was finding different ways to avoid and we can do we can avoid we as humans can find all different ways to avoid ourselves. And it's not just your substances, and it's not just your work. And so I think that was it was avoidance. Really?

James Robilotta:

Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's, that makes a lot of sense. Right? You you drink or, or get high or whatever. So that you could be somewhere else or someone else for just a little bit. For sure whether it's under a bridge naked or not. Time is now

James Robilotta:

so So you go from that period of life to what you're doing now is incredible, right? You're you're traveling around the country you're working with. I know you definitely work with with high school, college students. I'm not sure if you do stuff with adults, too. I would assume you do. But you do a lot of stuff around suicide prevention, mental health awareness, giving people those tools that you were talking about that you that you had, but didn't know you had back back then? How do we connect those dots for me, brother? How do we get from from trying to make it as a New York City actor to traveling around the country and doing what you do? Still Still crushing on stages? Just with your own script?

Joshua Rivedal::Joshua Rivedal:or so after I wrote the show,:James Robilotta:

Brother, what a journey. What? A little. Yeah. Incredible that it came back to you acting right, the one man play. And the fact that you took that that course of that gentleman that you had admired the playwright or writer or whatever he was, right, that you took his one man play, or one man show course, that's a bit serendipitous. Now that that's what you wound up creating, and, and the power of someone taking a shot on you, right, the person at your school. And, you know, there was there was, there was so much in there. And, you know, there's this whole, I feel like in that, that period of life that I asked you to kind of talk about your journey with your mother was like, all over the place right? Now. Um, and that is, that's incredible, that mom was a mom when you needed her to be the mom the most. And, you know, whatever happened before, you know, we don't necessarily need to get into today. But, you know, whatever gotten that happened before the fact that she showed up for you in that moment. You know, I think a lot of times, a lot of times, it's scary. To go back to someone like that, who we don't know what the question or the status of our relationship is. Right? And if that conversation goes, well, that conversation doesn't go, well. You know, I don't know where we are today. Right. And I know, you know that. And so yeah, so that I mean, that was that was a powerful moment, as well. And thank you for sharing your dad's story, your family's history, your own history with suicide as well. I know, I know, you talk about it, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Now. Right? I know you've dealt a lot of it and, and your own counseling, journey, your own reflection, your own everything. But, you know, like you said earlier, now like, you know, there's still parts of your dad's death that you wrestle with? Nah, man, I'm sure there's still parts of your own, and potential end of your life that you wrestle with now. And, you know, once it starts to work, right once this once once you get this great feedback, and you have this amazing student that has the courage to come up to you and say, Hey, thank you. Now I'm thinking this, and now I'm realizing that maybe there's some more maybe I haven't tried everything yet. Maybe there's some other resources for me. Maybe I'm not crazy. Maybe I'm not alone. Maybe I can find love or worthiness. And from that to what you now do around the country is, is incredible. And I'm sure you've had many more people come up to you and share some stories like that, or stories about how their brother or their friend or their dad or their mom, right, like, the stories that you have heard, because of the work that you have, do. there got to be the wind in the sails that that keep you push it?

Joshua Rivedal:

Definitely, definitely. I mean, I think stories are why I do what I do. You know, my, it started with my story. But it's all these other stories. And this is a big reason why I started the impossible project, I was like, let me share other people's stories on top of my own, let me make storytelling a priority. Because when we tell stories, it's no longer than them, it's within us, right. And there's, there's elements of science that I can talk about that what stories do to our brain, and what, what and then what it leaves our feet to do, you know, and walking and making moves and taking action, right? But just hearing like, and I have, you know, people who I now call friends, not just colleagues, not just past whatever, but friends who, like I came to your thing that night, and I didn't die. And now our family looks like this instead, or I was gonna kill myself that night. And I literally added like, and then this person, you know, then became a friend, and is now with an educational counselor in a college setting. So she uses some of her she does have a mental health counseling background, which is an educational counselor. So he used some of that I also helped her produce her book, you know, and things like that. So I mean, that kind of stuff is super rewarding. And then and just to know that people are alive and kicking it is I mean, I no one could ever take that away. And that's exactly why I do what I do. You know? Yeah,

James Robilotta:

yeah, that's beautiful, man. That's beautiful. You I have a, I've dealt with suicide in my life as well, I had a, my cousin committed suicide when I was when I was fairly young. He was he was the oldest cousin on my mom's side. And so the oldest grandchild, and, and he took his life. And I remember you, I think it was in I was either in high school or early college when it happened. And so I had some awareness of mental health. And I remember kind of going through something, but I also, you know, he wasn't necessarily someone who I was super close with, just, you know, just because of time and space. And our age difference was huge. Read, there's like, 20 years between between us almost, and, but I still remember his funeral. And like, it was when like Soul asylum was, was was was poppin. And runaway train was on in the limousine as we were going out to the, the, the, the funeral home and stuff like that. And like, you know, you remember those moments, you remember the feeling and I remember my uncle and my cousins, who are, you know, his siblings. And then, you know, fast forward to the work that I do in residence life, you know, they're there a few times where, unfortunately, we lost some residents. To, to that. And you always your first question is why? Your, your second question is what could we have done? And, and then nothing ever gets answered? And and you and you talked about something that really, you touched on it briefly when you talked about men and mental health, and your own journey as a male with it. And I think, you know, we as men, and mental health, we crave belonging, yet we often run from love. For whatever reason, right? I think men are men aren't necessarily I think we're getting better as a society that men are allowed to feel things are getting more and more allowed to feel things which is amazing. And I created a lot of social media, I think social media as, as much as it's probably hurt people's mental health in some ways, it's also allowed it's also helped a lot to win the normalization, the therapy of things like that, you know, when it comes down to being men a lot of times so it's not that men aren't taught to feel I think it's but I think men are still taught to be internal processors. Writing mentors are still taught to don't present your product to present your zoomy don't present your process present your product and and that's still tough. And like that thing of like, I'm not deserving to talk about it a worthy to talk about it unless I've been like, and here's what I'm gonna do about it, or here's what I did do about it. Yeah. Have you noticed that in some of your work with men and I know that's not only men, right, but you know, in the work that you You've done and thinking about yourself and your process. Have you noticed some of that?

Joshua Rivedal:

For sure, I think, yeah, I think a lot of what you said is pretty spot on, I think, you know, a lot of men and a lot of people. First of all, like, like, so all that framework exists, right? And then there's, um, you know, and some of that elaborating, somebody talked about. There's, I'm not valuable unless I'm producing something, right. And if I'm not at my best, and I'm feeling like I might want to die, why can't produce, so I have no value, right? And if I have no value, then what good am I I'm a burden, right? Until burden is often what people talk about when they talk about dying. And I think, you know, for me as a man, like I can, I get that too, I get it. Now, I get that, you know, and that's the that's part of the the man that's part of some recent processing, that's part of a difficult experience that I've had recently. And that's part of like this ongoing process, like, my value is not in what I produce, my value is in the the quality of relationships that I have, and the people who I help and, and the good things that I bring to the table, and things like that, and how I'm showing up in the world, it's not always about how I produce, right, so I need, so we need to start to check in, on our own on on how we value ourselves and how we display our value. Right? Because so there's, there's that and I think also with men and people in general, there's this idea like this need of reciprocity, right? So if like, and it's innate, right, like in saber toothed Tiger times, if you know, if you weren't cooking the meal, then you better caught it. And if you didn't catch it, you better tell the story about it. And you can't do none of that you better get out, you know, and so there's this like, you know, because we're a cohabited tribal sort of a species as it were. And, and so that's stayed in our brains and our bodies. For this entirety, you know, as long as we've been homosapiens, I suppose. But, um, but when people don't expect when they feel like, I'm in trouble, I'm in crisis, I'm feeling less than my best, I can't talk about it, because then that person might expect something else from me, they might want something from me, they might use it against me, right? There's all these different things. And so for me, it's like, we got to find, you know, we've got to work on finding the people in our world, and not just one person, but that at least two people who we can, like lean on to a degree, not in a professional sense. But sometimes, you know, people will get perspective from as men as people, we need multiple, you know, we can dive deep in, we can have conversations, right? And then also know that by asking for help, we're actually offering that other person to have a sense of value, right? Because the, in meaning and purpose because how do you feel when you help somebody as you feel a sense of values and meaning and sense of purpose, don't be hogging those good feelings. Don't be doing that, you know, that's not for you to do. So we got to you know, we got it. We just kind of have to flip the script a little bit and how we think about reciprocity and help and and paying it forward. And, and and I mean, I don't know what it means to be a man James. I really don't I honestly do not know what it means. I know what it means and what it looks like on me, but I don't even know if that's what it actually means. But as a human, I think we just we need to re reconceived some of these long hell and some sometimes erroneous things that are no longer serving us.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. erroneous great word

James Robilotta:

that was a drinking game for today. The erroneous jug your water? My other man's name actually. ellipses? Yeah, man, what you just said is so astute. And is it's so easy. It's easier said than done. Obviously changing the perceptions of what does it mean to be men? Right, like I'm doing I'm doing a mental health session for some construction workers then in May or June and as part of me that's like super scared about it. Right? Because because I just, you know, this is a you know, as adults we are also getting deeper and deeper into our own patterns and our own thoughts and we're also adults are also closer to having parents that were raised in more traditional mindsets and etc, etc. Right and so, but it is something that is so powerful to talk about, and it You know, obviously, the suicide rate in men is much higher than that. And women, sadly, especially in young women, women are catching up, which is not good. That doesn't mean there's less men committing suicide, right? It's just more women. And that's, that's horrifying. And, and, but still, there's still more men that are that are taking, they're taking their lives and women. And you know, as we think about the prevention work, we can think about some of the individual stuff that we can do, where it's like, hey, you know, get your buddy to a counselor and or just get your buddy talking, or let them know that they're worthy, set up plans with them, and have conversations and just, you know, kind of be that, you know, I like to say that commitment is patience plus persistence, and we need to be, you know, commitment is that with our friends as well that are going through, like we let we need to let people have their own process, we don't just need to be like, ah, check down on you won some fine, right? Like, there has to be a persistent, you know, coming back to people. And so. So when you think about some of the work that folks can be doing for people around them, and mental health, you know, what are what are some of the the little things that you could say that someone can do to to help somebody if they think if they're just like, hey, you know, I noticed that so and so's patterns have changed, or they're just kind of feeling down or the way they're, they're talking about themselves, their their, their self narrative has changed? What are some tips that you have for four people to start some of those conversations damn well, knowing that most likely that person will either try to avoid, get defensive or ignore, you know, that opera that attempt that first attempt, especially?

Joshua Rivedal:

For sure, yeah, I think, I think a big gift that we can give each other, even. Yeah, I think one of the big gifts, and there's a lot of ways to say this, but you notice somebody going through multiple major changes, or you notice something going through a hard time and you notice somebody, you just pull them aside and you start the conversation along the lines of I know you're going through this, this and this, I want to let you know that I see you, you know, that's it must be incredibly difficult, you know, validate what they're going through, because people who go through that really deep level suicidal crisis, one of the things that they experience in my Me included is that you don't feel seen or heard or understood in a very long time. And so you're just kind of planting a seed there. It might take you to down that path. But it's a very nonconfrontational very easy way. And then you could even take it a step further, and maybe ask permission and just say, like, Hey, can I share with you something that I see of you, you know, and they don't have to believe you, you they don't have that, you know, it doesn't have to be that way. Because sometimes we're in a dark place, we don't see the good things about us the healthy things, but like, you're, you're still suiting up and showing up, you know, you're, you're a good friend to me, like, you're still taking care of your kid, even though you're going through this, this and this, right. So validating and then letting know that you see them, and coming from that strength Space Place of like, whoa, like, there's still good things happening in your world. And you're not doing that to necessarily so that they can see that perspective in that moment, or that they totally agree with your perspective. But it's to say like, Hey, other people have other perspectives. You know, I think I think that's a big one, I think being willing to ask the big question, are you thinking of suicide, you know, could could, you know, be depending on on the acuity, the acuity, the severity of the crisis, or the difficulty that you're seeing. And then I think also, like, in terms of like, just letting someone know that you care about them, and letting them know that the how important they are to you, is really, really important, not from a shaming place, but just like I, you know, I just really, really deeply respect you and care about you, things like that can go a really, really long way. And then I think on a little bit more of a macro level, we also need to start looking this looking at this as a societal issue rather than an individual issue, because it's, it's a, it's both and we really often shift the burden of of this on the person. But yet, suicide is a is a multi pronged thing. And so, you know, we need to start looking at food insecurity, we need to start looking at cultural and systemic bullying, we need to start looking at food deserts. We need to start looking at sexual violence, we need to start looking at wars, we need to start looking at all these other things that that cause because suicide is about hopelessness. It's not about bad, crazy, weird, sinful, anything like that, right? So if it's about all these things, then it's also about the box we live in. And so it's about making that box more tolerable, if not amazing, you know, for as many people as possible. So we need to we need to look at it both from a systemic issue, and also as an individual thing that we can just like, show up for people.

James Robilotta:

Yeah. First of all, I know you weren't trying to do this, but like it was Really beautiful call out is that and the way you put it was that it's not? It's not just an individual thing, right? It's also we got to look at the systems that are around us, and how those are feeding to it, as you put, you know, it's about it's about the systems, how they've created situations where people feel hopeless, and forgotten. And yeah, that is. That's incredibly powerful. I guess I never thought about it in that way. That I mean, I know that all those things attribute to it, but to the way that you put it is that it's not necessarily an individual issue. It is, it's so much bigger than that. And you're right, that we often do see suicide as just a well, that person blank. Right. They were going through this, and, and whatever. And that is inappropriate, and often miss named. I mean, don't get me wrong. It's not to say that there aren't such individuals like that. But still, but still, yes, there. What are the contributing factors? What are the things that built up that person to a level of hopelessness to where it's like, well, this is the only way out. That is, that's powerful to think about. And I know something that you do, you are famously a pretty solid Cook, and you also enjoy you enjoy cooking for others. You're you know that going back to your pesto condiment pro tip, but you know, I know that you also attack some of this work through food, mental health, can you tell us a little bit more about kind of what you're trying to do there? And what that piece of your work looks like?

Joshua Rivedal:

Yes. So thank you for asking. Yes. So I'm doing stuff around food and mental health so so I'm also like, little side hustle we've been talking about in the intro, but like, I do a lot of a fair amount of ghost writing and editing and, and book stuff, but producing and things along these different lines. So a couple years ago, I worked on a nutrition guide, as a ghostwriter. And basically wrote it but had to do all this research. And then it was on healthy nutritious food and things like that. And so a lot of it was like, you know, this is what this food does. And this is what it does to dopamine and serotonin. And this is this is this has neuro protective factors. And this reduces inflammation. And this is what these things do. And so I was like, Oh my gosh, like, and then I started noticing what food was doing to my brain. When I was intentional about the kinds of foods that I that I consumed during a major episode of anxiety, a prolonged episode of anxiety a couple of years ago, and I was like, Oh my gosh, like I want to, if this is if we could chat, you know, flip the script a little on food and make it about being a nourishing coping skill. Rather than this is just something we do, or it's something we have no control over. And then I realized that a lot of people know how to cook. And, and I've sort of studied that. And I have a little bit of a food background as well like working in kitchens and, and things like that. And, and so the idea is when we eat a healthy, nutritious, or when we eat more nutritious food, we're gonna have a more nourished body and brain. And so it's not about weight, it's not about size, it's not about and it's also in mind, you know, keeping in my food insecurity, and things like that, you know, and food trauma and all that because not everyone has the same kind of access to food. So my goal and what I'm doing and I'm doing some presentations around this already is is combining a little bit of my story with as a presentation a little bit of my story with the basics of mental health with food as a coping skills of science and then sharing like a couple of foods to stay to limit in terms of like, you know, refined white sugar, flour, things like that, you know, unless you're cooking it yourself, right and then and then things a certain foods that to get closer to and so some of those foods, it depends like if it's a community college and they have a certain food in their pantry, then I'll highlight that food and then I'll also leave them with with with a recipe for each and then I also I haven't been able to do a live cooking demo yet but a pre recorded cooking demo on and the one I have at the moment is how to cook a minestrone soup and just making it really easy and healthy, nutritious, but comforting, right so but so I want people to enjoy doing these things. I want them to be able to even if they are experiencing food insecurity like what can we add to a thing around it to make it a little more nutritious? Can we throw a couple of spinach leaves in it maybe a sprinkle of turmeric, you know if we eat something that's like a can of soup or progresso or something that might tend to have a lot of sodium in it, right? Well, how do we counterbalance that? Okay, so cut it with some, you know, cut it with some citrus or eat a banana at you know, as part of the meal because it'll soak up a lot of that sodium, or frozen potatoes in it, right, so little hacks and stuff, too. And then the next goal is to, and I'm slowly compiling this, but as to release a mental health team cookbook that focuses on you know, nourishing comfort, comfort foods. And so a lot of them will start from from as much as possible, like a vegan base, but then you can add a me you can add it, you know, a dairy if you so choose, but it starts from that place, because, you know, food allergies and food ethics and what certain people value in terms of eat meat, don't eat meat, you know, kind of thing. So, so just trying to keep all that in mind as well. Yeah. Yeah. That's what I'm doing, brother.

James Robilotta:

Yeah, I am. I'm someone who, you know, for most of my life, and I probably say even now, like, Whenever someone's like, wow, my blood sugar's low, or I got to do this. Like, and not not diabetic, there's people, there's just, like, aware of their bodies. I'm always like, I don't know what that feels like. Right? Like, I don't, I don't, that cannot compute. Right? And so it would, it's fascinating to me to hear you talk about this, where it's like, you know, certain foods will change our moods and and not just like, I need some chocolate right now. Or, you know, obviously, like, I had a tough day, all I want is a bowl of pasta, right? Like not necessarily that kind of not that level of changing your mood. But more. So, like you said, like, you know, counterbalancing some of the things that are that are in some of the foods we already eat, and how can we make sure we're increasing this and what our foods are impacting our serotonin and dopamine levels. Like, that's stuff I've never even thought about. And so I hope you do drop that cookbook on Oh, brother. Because that is that's intriguing, man, that is super intriguing. And, and I also appreciate you saying that, you know, I'm a big fan of the Hayes movement right to health at any size. Now and, and so, you know, I love that you're like, I'm not I'm not trying to lose weight loss is a mental health cookbook, which is I've never seen anything like that before. Now and that's a that's a super cool idea, man. Thanks for the work you're doing. Thanks, Tommy. Appreciate. Yeah, brother, Josh. Man, it's so cool talking to you, man. I respect the hell out of you, dude. I love your angle. I love your vulnerability. And the work that you do is is beautiful. As it is tragic, right? Cuz I know that. You know, we can't we can't save everybody as much as we'd love to be able to. And, and so I just want to say thank you for for coming and hanging in the diner. And thank you for for sharing what you did with us today, man.

Joshua Rivedal:

Thanks, brother. Man. I've really enjoyed every minute man is always really nice to spend time with you, brother. Oh, yeah.

James Robilotta:

Yeah, much love man. Hey, Josh. Let people know where we're gonna stay in touch with you, man. How are we keeping up with Joshua rebel?

Joshua Rivedal:

Ah, go with Joshua revival.com J Oh, sh events. It's in. It's on the screen. It's probably a good place to go. I'm not super active on social media. I just it's just hard for me to do that. But I'm there you can you can reach me if you want. Facebook, Instagram. Those are probably the big on Twitter. You know, I was gonna make a parlor joke, but I decided not to stay away. Ah, yeah, I mean, there's a lot to where you can find me all over the web. You know? Seriously like I like lots of you. I google myself often. No, I don't.

James Robilotta:

Yeah, the impossible project raise I apostrophe M possible but it's all one word, right? Yeah, I

Joshua Rivedal:

am. So I am possible project comm is sort of more of the business website. And there's not not a lot of food. There's no food stuff on there yet but but it's it's stuff I'm talking about and doing and when I'm ready to talk about it. In that forum. Okay,

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