Generator Ep. 016 – Mitzi Starkweather: Creating an Unconditional Life

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Mitzi Starkweather, a Missouri based portrait photographer, educator, and creator of the Raw Portraits Course available at her website. "We've been friends for a few years now and I am still inspired by Mitzi every single day. We've had long conversations about the essence of connecting with clients in the past, but this conversation allowed us to go a little deeper and truly get to know what drives Mitzi to value raw, authentic connections." For more information about her work and her Raw Portraits Course, please visit her website at or follow her on social media @mitzistarkweather

Audio Version

Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 016 - "Creating an Unconditional Life"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
Hi there, and welcome back. This is episode 16 of generator which I’m calling, creating an unconditional life. My guest this week is Mitzi Starkweather. Now Mitzi is a portrait photographer based in Missouri. And she is also a mother. She is a cancer survivor. She is an educator, she is a speaker. She is a lot of things to a lot of people. But in a word, Mitzi is remarkable. You know, I’ve wanted to have this conversation with Mitzi for about a year and the timing finally worked out. And it’s great because she’s just about to launch her newest course called The Rock portraits course. So we’ll talk about that we’ll talk about a lot of other things, a lot of self value, a lot of self love a lot of our own intricacies and how we work in our relationships and how we work with others. Mitzi truly is one of a kind, and I know you’re going to enjoy this. So let’s get on with the show with Mitzi Starkweather.

I had some old coffee, I didn’t feel like heating it up. So I threw a sugar free cocoa mix in here. And now I’ve got kind of like a cold chocolate latte thing. Which, if I get through great if I don’t, we’ll switch to a beer that I have in front of me. So it’s like,

Mitzi Starkweather 1:47
terrible. I’ll go straight for the beer. I’m drinking a the honey vanilla chamomile tea.

Matt Stagliano 1:54
See, you know, I’ve got to move to tea. Because one I know it’s better for me. And two because I drink so much caffeine, I think it is eaten through most

Mitzi Starkweather 2:05
Oh, I drink a lot of caffeine to this is just like an afternoon when my stomach is like, upset from all the caffeine. And then I go to chamomile or peppermint tea.

Matt Stagliano 2:15
Well, thank you for being here in our various states of hydration, one so long about everything. And I know we have to try to condense this to an hour. or there abouts an hour a day a week. I don’t know how long this conversation. I was thinking the other day as I was kind of preparing for this. I was like, I feel like I’ve known Mitzi forever. When when really was the first time that I met you? And was it WPI 20. When we were it was me and you and Kat and Johnny, and we were two was a 2022. Wow, really, since then, like being able to watch you grow and grow and grow and set goals and achieve and set goals and achieve them. I love talking about that. But give everybody just the 30,000 foot view of who you are and where you’re located. All the basic stuff. I’ll take care of the preamble, but I want to hear what you have to say.

Mitzi Starkweather 3:15
Yeah, so Well, my name is Mitzi Starkweather. And I am a working portrait photographer. I’ve had a studio right in the center of the country in southwest Missouri for 10 years. And I live in a pretty small town, I have a little family. We’re all supported by my business. And my husband, Jordan did work with me for a few years. And then in 2020, when we had our baby. After a few months, I went back to work and he’s like, stay at home dad now. And then I went into the business, you know, by myself and I had to find other people to help me. Because I realized how much he did when you were with me whenever he was no longer there. So really, in the last few years, we’ve had a lot of life changes and just a lot of like pivoting and then shifting this and getting through this and a lot of things have happened. But honestly, like, I just love to connect with people on the other side of my camera, I love to connect with other photographers, especially through teaching and going to conferences and dreaming together. But also, I love movies. And that’s where I spend a lot of my time is at my local cinema, watching movies with my friends on the internet and our house and all kinds of stuff. So really, I joke with the owners of our local cinema that like I work so I can just come here as much as I want. Like, because they also have the best cafe in the area and I eat there all the time. So it’s like I don’t know I just love I love my little community. I love that my house is five minutes from my downtown studio. And yeah, it’s it’s small and simple in some ways, but at the same time, it’s like looking back I see that I kind of crafted exactly what I need and what I want. I’m a very creative person, but I need my space. Like, I need my routine. And I need my, you know, studio to be set up a certain way. And I need all those things. And then from there, I can just kind of make whatever I want. And yeah, I love to outsource a lot of things I don’t want to do. And in that capacity, I like to work with those people. But I also love being self employed and not having a boss, because I don’t do well with people telling me what to do.

Matt Stagliano 5:30
I feel the same way getting out of corporate, I never thought I’d be my own boss. And it’s been the greatest thing. And simultaneously the most stressful. Anxiety. Oh, yeah, panic inducing thing I’ve ever done. And it’s only been going on for about 10 years. Right. So, but you’ve been doing this for about 10 years t right. And I think one of the things that I’ve noticed, and you you touched on it, there was your ability to connect, I’ve seen you do it time and time again, not only from when we met, but just seeing you at the self value workshop, seeing you with other photographers seeing you in silence sitting alone, and someone coming up and talk to you. The instantaneous connection that you have with folks, including myself is phenomenal. I don’t see that a lot. And I see it brought into your photography, and now the raw portraits course as well, where that connection is stressed so much has that always come easily to you? Or is it been something that you’ve had to work at?

Mitzi Starkweather 6:36
Oh, that’s such a good question. I think that the biggest journey of my adult life has been unlearning everything that I thought was wrong about me as a child, and an awkward teen. And realizing that that connection ability that I have with people is my superpower. And I’ve never been okay, so you know, Clifton Strengths. Are you familiar with that? Yeah. So there’s like those 39 or 40 things? Okay. Literally my lowest one. So my curious my eyes, Terry would say my least strong strength is woo went over others. Okay, that is the bottom of my Clifton Strengths. So it’s just kind of funny when you think about it. However, my number one is relator. So I can find a point of connection with anyone I need. And that is definitely my strength, as you know, a portrait photographer and you know, Coach and stuff like that. What I had to kind of unlearn was that all the rules like especially professional rules, and you know, social rules that all this that I tried so hard to change myself. And the mold I tried to fit into for most of my 20s was actually not the way I connected with people. I remember there was this time, I think it was in junior high, I had this friend, I didn’t have a lot of friends in school, I usually have like several really close ones at a time. And I had this one friend who we hung out. And then you know, once we hit junior high, she got really popular because she was like tall, skinny blonde, great with people and all the boys liked her. So she started to get more popular. And I remember there was this time when I think I like wrote her a letter saying like everything that I thought was so great about her. And she didn’t have a positive response to it. And I remember like she thought it was weird. And that’s kind of the, the thing that I had to heal from and then learn how to embrace as an adult was like, no meeting someone having a meaningful connection with them. And then speaking truth to them is something people aren’t used to. And it’s kind of disarming for some people. But I’ve also learned that like I have to be invited in for that that’s not really like an unsolicited thing that you know, everyone’s ready to hear. So yeah, it’s just been learning how to find my voice, how to trust my gut, how to, you know, pick up on because like, your body’s always telling you, who’s a safe person who’s not who, you know, it’s just we talked about attraction, like, we’re, we talked about vibration we talked about, there’s all these different ways we talk about it, right? But it’s like when you’re in a room with certain people, there are some people you gravitate more towards that other people you don’t like. And it could be the different people at different times, like for a million different reasons. But just really listening to that. And then also listening to myself and knowing when I need to withdraw because my time with myself is so important. And I become a very annoying, toxic negative person when I don’t get enough of that, because I start to try to get it from everyone else. And I’ve learned like that doesn’t work. So yeah, just like learning what my strengths are leaning into those and then just setting really good boundaries in my life so that when those connecting times are what they need to be I’m able to show up fully and I remember that specific WPI that was my first conference post, pandemic and everything. So I hadn’t been to one since portrait masters 2019. And I was a very different person then. And then, you know, 2020 happened, I had a baby like, they’re all this different life change, and all this stuff happened rocked my world. And then when I went to WPI, I realized, like, wow, this is my first time at a conference where I had very different personal boundaries. And I spent the whole first day at the in Vegas, when I flew in, in the morning, purposely by myself in the hotel room, getting ready for hours, just getting ready, kind of meditating on that, picking out an outfit that I liked doing my makeup, thinking about, you know, how the night was gonna go, who I was gonna meet, like, in the past, I would have been like, Okay, I’m in Vegas, I gotta make the most of this, I gotta go see this, I gotta go force myself into this social situation. Good. And I was like, No, now I know, like, I understand what my capacity is. And so it was really cool to be at that conference and see those differences that I had made. And then yeah, when I went to the portrait masters happy hour, and I got to meet like you and I got to meet. You know, Terry for the first time. And like all these people who are known online, it was so cool, because I just felt like, Oh, I’m just gonna go see my friends. I just haven’t met them in real life yet. And I remember I think it was. Remember when we waited in the world’s longest Mojito line? That night, we’re with like, cat and Johnny just handcrafting each Mojito, like, oh, man, they just took forever on those. But anyway, that was really fun. Because it was one of those first times that I was like, I’m gonna find my people, and I’m gonna hang out with them. And it was, it was really, really cool. And then, yeah, so I think that the way that we connect with people is something we have to learn. Yeah. And it’s something where I think it’s easy for us to try to copy how some people do it. And then when we get frustrated, because it doesn’t work, the way that they did it. And it’s like, no, you got to find a way that works for you. Because we all have different strengths. And so it’s like what Terry told me when she did my Clifton Strengths Assessment, she’s like, Yeah, so when you go to a networking event, and you don’t know anyone there, it’s probably good if you have someone with you, who has win over others high and their strength, right, yeah, like just learning that information, and then playing towards your strengths, and then finding other people to help you where you’re not strong. And that has been absolutely like changing. You

Matt Stagliano 12:26
know, I know you’ve heard Sue Brice aid in the in the self value workshops, you know, I’m not broken, I just come with instructions, right. And it takes forever for us to learn what our own instructions are. And write that manual for other people I know me growing up, I was a people pleaser, I don’t know if you were but kind of trying to be the the outgoing, you know, well spoken person that everybody wanted me to be. And I thought I had to act a certain way. And when you would just mentioned that, you know, doing what you thought people wanted you to be, or that was really powerful. Because it wasn’t until I don’t know, past four or five years that I really started taking some of these masks off myself. And I realized that is introverted. As I am needing that solo time, like you had in Vegas, right, I do the same thing. I get up at five in the morning, and I’ll go to a coffee shop. And I’ll sit there for two hours by myself knowing that I’ll be peopling the rest of the day, right. But I find by taking some of those masks off, and being able to just kind of understand how I work. Therefore, now I can explain it to other people. Because you’re basically saying, Hey, you want to know how to interact with me just read this short 42 page document that I have with me. So you can understand how I work. Right? Understanding like that. It’s okay to just be you not live up to other people’s expectations. That was a big sea change for me. And it sounds like through all the different pivots, you call them. All the different pivots you’ve gone through over the past couple of years, that that came probably much faster for you than it has for some other people,

Mitzi Starkweather 14:16
anyone who faces like their mortality. And that’s I mean, cancer is one of the most common ways these days. That’s been huge because it just makes everything so clear to you. Sure. And also, I just have so much less capacity than I ever had, like, yeah, I have a toddler now. And yeah, I work but I’m not like okay, see, eight to five every day. And like, No, I’m involved in his life. Like I get to have a flexible schedule. I love hanging out with him. Like this morning. We took an hour long walk just in the leaves with our dog and I bought him this little camera for his third birthday last week. And he’s loving it which is great because I’m trying not to like push it on him but I’m like, Hey, got his camera. He’s got everything. I got. So it’s just this little, I mean, it’s probably like, it’s like the quality of those cameras we used in like the late talks, you know, just one of those little. Yeah. And he’s just taking pictures of everything. And we just spend an hour this morning on this beautiful day. He’s just taking pictures. And he’s like, we’re discovering, you know, we’re just discovering things. And, and it’s like this so great. So anyway, I, that time is so precious to me, because it goes so fast. And I’m like, I have these things that are important to me. And I have less capacity than I ever have. Also, because I’m doing hormone therapy, for my breast cancer treatment that I’m only one year down out of 10. And it’s exhausting, because it kind of makes me feel like I’m in menopause. Not all the way but like partway, it has all these weird side effects. So it’s always like epic with my turns out hormones are very important. And like, my memory is not as good as it used to be, my energy level is lower than it’s ever been. If I don’t do yoga a couple times a week, like my body just hurts. And so it’s forced me to like take care of myself. And I’m only just turned 33. And I’m like, okay, my body feels a lot older than that. But there’s a reason I think a lot of people don’t start yoga till they’re 50 or don’t, you know, start eating like nourishing whole food until they’re in their 40s and 50s is because it catches up with you, and you could feel a difference. So I’ve kind of just taken this as like a gift of like, okay, no, I just need to be super intentional about how I love myself every day, how I show up for myself, so that I have the capacity for what I truly want work, the work that I do the things I create as part of that, and I have to have capacity for that. But like, I gotta have capacity for my family and for, you know, just my life because like, yeah, we gotta make money, I guess, nothing really makes you think about like, why you go to work like, Okay, if there’s a three year old, who you are their entire world, and they look at you in the eyes on morning, and you’re like, alright, but I gotta go to work. And they go, why? Like, what do you say, you know, and my, my son asked me that a few months ago, he’s like, why? And I said, Well, we have to have money to buy things, you know, like our house. And like, when we go to the store in our food, you know, we have to have money. So you have to work to make money. And he’s like, why? And you know, he’s in his wine era. Absolutely. So I’m explaining it. But what stuck with me, especially that day was I didn’t say, so I can get external validation and feel good about myself. Or so I can prove myself as the best photographer in the world to all my peers. Or so I can finally make my parents proud of me. Because I’ve made a certain amount of money, or whatever. Like, there’s all these reasons we do it. But I’m like, No, really, it’s just so I think it was like a week later, I said, alright, but I gotta go to work. And he was like, Oh, why to buy money? And I was like, yeah. It’s just like, because to him, it’s just like, he’s like, Look at these cool rocks. You do you want to hold them? Like, they’re so cool. Look at these leaves, aren’t they beautiful? Like, and I just, he’s just so grounding, like, kids are so smart. Because they haven’t been brainwashed yet, like we have. Right? And so he has just taught me like, how to find joy in just the most simple, beautiful things, and how to be honest with myself, because, like what Sue said, and self value, right? Like your kids, like, they’re not gonna do it your, you say they’re gonna do you do. And it took, like, having this amazing little human for me to be like, wait, what do I want for him? Like, I gotta want that for me first, and I have to show him.

Matt Stagliano 18:51
I use the analogy. We’ve all got this pristine little hard drive when you were born. And then it gets filled up with either really good software, or just a whole bunch of viruses and pop ups and, and I feel like, you know, you get to your 30s or 40s. And the pop ups just really become annoying. And that’s when this self value stuff starts. It’s like defragging yourself, right? And you’re just trying to clean out and clean out and clean out. And then you wind up with your the way that your operating system works the best. And it’s so great that you’re even taking into consideration how your son is growing up and what he wants, and not hey, here’s what I did. Therefore, you have to do it. It’s what do you think about that? How do you see the world what are you going to change? How are you interpreting what is you know, you’re seeing, but understanding that he’s got this hard drive that you can either fill up with your stuff or let him fill up with his own. And I think that’s a really interesting thing that you’re doing. Recognizing in yourself that hey, it took me a while to get to This realization, I wonder how long it will take him to get there. I wonder what it is that he’s gonna be in therapy and 20 years about, oh

Mitzi Starkweather 20:10
God talking about all the things his mom said that mess them up like, oh, it’s gonna happen, obviously. But

Matt Stagliano 20:15
these are the things you can’t you can’t account for now, but at least you’re you’re in this point of self awareness where you can understand that he’s being shaped right now, these are some of those core foundational beliefs and, and ways of being and you have an influence over that. And with that great responsibility, not being a parent myself, I get to go and kind of muck up what parents do with their kids. And you don’t need to listen to mom, you don’t need to listen to that. I’m that guy. Right. But it’s

Mitzi Starkweather 20:44
very you people like you were very important to and it’s something like Dorian has a lot of aunties and uncles who don’t have kids who adore him, right. And that’s something that I read recently. It’s actually like part of our genetic hardwiring for kids to not listen to their parents, once they get to like adolescence, and to want to go to other trusted adults to ask for their advice. And evolutionarily, that keeps us from inbreeding, that’s how you get people to leave their family. Right? So it’s like, it’s naturally something that we just do. And so like having other people in your life, and like, I don’t know, like the little kids who are in my life, too, you know, through different community things and stuff. It’s like, I just, I just treat every child like a person. And I, I’ve never really had an issue with that I don’t talk to him differently, really, I don’t, you know, it’s like, they’re little people. And I think we have so much to learn from them, just like they have stuff to learn from us. And that’s also I have friends and mentors who are also in their 50s, and 60s and clients of all ages. And it’s like, you know, in the career that I’m in, it’s so cool that I get to meet people of so many ages and walks of life. And I think it just shows me time and time again, like how similar we all are. And like, we all have the same heartbeat, we all have the same struggles, we all have the same fears, like we are so connected. And I think especially in this day and age of like the isolation, which, you know, capitalism drives it, because it ultimately makes more profit, like, the more isolated you can get people, the more they have to pay for everything, right. And so there are more single person homes now than there ever have been. And like because it is like in that same way that we’re all like flocking to social media and like trying to connect to each other. Like, we’re all like, we’re on there all the time. It’s just, it’s just such an interesting dichotomy. Like, we can’t help but like try to connect with the people around us. When

Matt Stagliano 22:36
you saw that big in the pandemic, right, you so everybody moved to clubhouse, or whatever social app of choice, right, where you can talk to people and interact, because we were, we were being starved of that it was, you know, such scarcity, where we could interact with other humans, right? So we drove we dove into that, in that period, right? You saw this cultural shift of art, it’s okay to wear sweatpants. It’s okay to work at home, it’s okay to you know, have shower every other day, like, you know, it gave people a chance to just press pause and relax a little bit about themselves about the relationships that they have, right? If you’re looking to decipher the culture, we saw people have really bad things happen, right, we all got a little bit darker, we all started thinking a little bit deeper. But we also saw this connection and authenticity, as a byproduct of all of it, people came out as being themselves, right. And there was this mass acceptance of that. And one of the things that you said in your new course, the rock portraits course, is that there’s this cultural shift towards authenticity now. And as much as that word is overused and probably exploited, everything that you said is spot on. There’s this cultural shift to I can see through the bullshit of marketing, I can see,

like, eat through the bullshit when I’m at a networking meeting, and someone’s just trying to make small talk. I’m like, can we fast forward this a little bit and skip to the good stuff? We’re seeing that shift? And culturally, we’re moving as a group really towards that. I love that fact. But I think you’re finding that people are starting to finally let their guard down and be who they want to be. Yes, without regard to consequence. Right. This is me accept me for who I am to and

Mitzi Starkweather 24:32
that’s something that that like, I don’t think we talk about enough is like we are grieving. We went through an incredibly traumatic event where we lost so many lives in this country. And many of us who trusted our leadership question that maybe not for the first time, maybe some people for the first time, there was a huge shift that happened culturally and we don’t know how to grieving this country, because it’s not profitable, avoidance is profitable. And you can make a lot of money off of helping people get quick fixes, so they don’t have to feel their feelings. So that’s what we do. But it’s like, I mean, if you think about just other cultures, other time periods, like it’s such a imperialist, like colonial thing to just not grieve, it’s like stiff upper lip. All right, get back to work tomorrow, it’s where in other parts of the world, even present day people will take a week to just wail when someone dies. Or, you know, there’s all these different rituals, right? It’s just a part of, it’s a part of life because it just is. I’ve heard some people were kind of even we’re use the word gaslighting. Like, it’s almost like our leadership, like, kind of gaslit I was like, oh, wasn’t that bad? And we’re just like, No, it was, but there are plenty of people who are like, fine to just believe that because you know, they gotta get up at six for work tomorrow, and the kids are screaming, and they have bills to pay and Life is stressful. And the the check the engine light has been on for three weeks, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? When my time of having my first and only child happened, and then having my Achilles rupture the following year, and then getting breast cancer right after that, like, I had to sit in the grief, like I had to, because I literally couldn’t walk or use my arms for a period of time. And I just had to feel it. I talked a lot about it in therapy. I wrote a lot about it. I feel like that’s what so many people have connected to as I’ve talked about this journey, it’s not the fact that I had cancer, okay, whether you had cancer or not, yeah, you can connect on that. But like, I think culturally, we can all connect on the Gree. Right, because, like, it’s there. And there’s a reason everyone is so fucking exhausted right now. Everyone is so tired. And there’s a reason we’re all talking about boundaries all the time. Because we do not have the capacity we had in 2019 on a given day, or week or month, like we just don’t, because so much of our capacity is taken up by all these other things, and then the news and the economy and all this other stuff going on. And so it’s just like, some of for some of the time, it’s feels like I’m sitting back, and I’m just kind of like watching everyone in the last couple years. And I’m like, Guys, just just take a few days off and cry like I it’s gonna help so much. Write it out, like feel it.

Matt Stagliano 27:28
I do it all the time. Sit alone and cry, meaning and this is, you know, I think you’re so dead on accurate with the grief thing. But we only have so much capacity in our brains for this or being shovel fed. So much stuff of how our life is supposed to be and who we’re supposed to be, and who we’re supposed to compare ourselves against, that we don’t have the chance to breathe, or grieve. Or think about what we want or where we want to go. Right? We’re inundated with stuff to look at and stuff to consume, which never gives us the time or inclination to stay clear. And actually just stay in our own silence and protect that space. Right? Yes. Through the through the pandemic, we got so used to contacting each other constantly, just to maintain some level of human connection, that I think we all created this habit that we have to be even more connected, we have to be even more online. And you know, I’ve said this a bunch living where I live, which is not dissimilar from where you are, but living in a very remote location. And being somewhat isolated. It was wonderful. And I don’t say that because like I thumb, my nose people are like, Hi live in the woods. It’s more like I didn’t have that constant inundation of people talking about the news and people talking about issues all the time. I just took it out and went into the woods with my dog and hung out and looked at trees, pictures and, you know, found that balance to stay creative. How are you finding where you live, and balancing that inundation of content of news of inflation and staying creative and raising a family you know, running a business. How do you maintain your level of creativity when your brain is full of all this stuff?

Mitzi Starkweather 29:37
Oh, that’s a really good question. Well, one thing I have is my husband Jordan is kind of my news and media curator. I try not to take him for granted for that because it’s like after a long day and I come home it’s like we do dinner but you know the kids are bed everything we sit down and lie I’ll be like, it’ll be like, Okay, how long until you have to go to bed and I can say whether it’s like an hour or I’m like, I got like three hours or whatever he’s like, Alright people that he’s already been on letterbox. He’s like, Okay, I’ve got these three movies. This one is where are you feeling? Especially in Halloween? I mean in October, so he’s like, Okay, you feeling more Gothic Horror tonight? You feel more this call? You want jello? Are you feeling okay? Oh, you want this category? Okay, you want the 74 minute movie or the 120 minute movie, like, seriously? And I’m just like, wow, that. So he does a lot of labor

Matt Stagliano 30:27
in that way. Jordan in my life. Oh,

Mitzi Starkweather 30:30
man. Oh, you guys would hit it off. But yeah, so I that is super nice for for me, as far as you know, the things because those things fill me up. And those things, you know, especially as a creative and a visual artist, it’s like, love it, love it, love it, you got to, you got to consume and create there has to be a balance, right? But also with the news, he keeps up on that really well. And he kind of just tells me what he thinks I can handle at that time. Or like, if he starts talking, he’s like, Oh, you need to know this update. I’ll be like, Oh, wow. Or I’ll be like, Tell me more. Some days. I’m like, I’m capacity for that. Thanks, like, glad to know what’s happening. But. So that is nice that like, I feel like I am informed. But there’s definitely been times, especially when like, cancer was kicking my ass where I’m like, I do not care. Like I don’t have the capacity to think about whatever is going on in the news right now or politics or anything like, but I don’t want to just, you know, it’s not a position I want to hold because I want to have a real realistic view of the world. So anyway, so he helps me with that. But I think one of the big things is like, just on social media, like just consistently unfollowing things that don’t make my life better, or make me feel bigger. Like if it makes me feel smaller, I unfollow, okay, same with like groups of people, if some group of people I’ve been hanging out with or an activity I’ve been doing or a habit that I have. And one day it starts making me feel smaller and not bigger than it’s time for that to be done. And obviously, that’s you as you go through life. Seasonally, some things work for some seasons and not for others. Just

Matt Stagliano 32:10
pause you there for a second. I want you to explain that a little bit making yourself feel smaller. When you’re looking at this, can you can you open that up a little bit?

Mitzi Starkweather 32:19
Yeah. So I always say if something makes you feel bigger, so that was actually a Marie Forleo thing that I heard on a podcast like years ago, she said, When you are faced with a new opportunity or a new idea, and you think about it, and you feel scared, so you feel fear, okay? If you sit with it for a second and close your eyes and think about it, does that fear of that thing make you feel bigger or smaller? If it makes you feel bigger? You go for it? If it makes you feel smaller? Don’t. So that really stuck with me. And I kind of go with that from now on. And I think that in most situations like you can pay attention, pay attention to what your body does. You go do you hunched down? Do you hang your head? You know, do you try to look smaller? Or can you stand proudly, with your hands on your hips and take up space in that idea or that moment? I had a moment it was about 12 years ago, because it was right around the time I got engaged. And yes, I was a child Brian and happen to work out. But you know, I’m in the Midwest. That’s how things are. I got engaged when I was 20. And right around that time, I realized that I was gluten intolerant. And so were like the next few months leading up to my wedding, I just lost like 25 pounds, like, just effortlessly. And I’m like five foot four. So that was like pretty significant. And I remember I went home to visit and there was a relative visiting my parents house who saw me and they hadn’t seen me in a while. And I remember I walked in the door and she saw me and her face lit up. And she smiled and she said, there’s so much less of you. That’s how she said it. And it’s always stuck with me. Because she was praising me. And at the time I was like yeah, I got skinnier. Hello, I’m a woman that’s my job be smaller, no matter what you do in life as a woman just get smaller, just like someone at my outdoor COVID friendly baby shower said in 2020 She saw me a lovely person. She’s like, You’re still so small. You’re eight months. It’s like yeah, and she goes, You must be so relieved. And then a week later, I went to the doctor’s or two weeks later went back to the doctor. They’re like, Oh, you’re measuring a little small we need to induce and I was afraid I was gonna lose my baby. But I was praised for it, right? Because there’s all these times and I’ve, as I’ve written about it and reflected in the last few years. I think about all the times I was praised for being small. And I think about the people who have praised me for being smaller. whether that’s with my voice with my body, with my ideas, and I don’t listen to their advice anymore, because I don’t take advice from people, I don’t want to be more like. So if people are praising me when I go small, that’s not really the people, I kind of think about that. And I’m like, I want to be around people who encouraged me to be bigger, and encouraged me to speak up louder. And it pushed me when, you know, it’s like when you make one of those posts, where you really pour your heart out, I don’t know if you’ve ever had this happen. And you post about it, and then you’re just like, your heart’s pounding, and you’re like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe I’m sharing this. And then like three people who you absolutely look up to and love, like, like it, you’re like, okay, I’m good, right? He’s like, Oh, no, they’re they’ve got my back. This friend is like, hell yeah. And you’re like, okay, and they’ve got your back. And there’s so many ways that that can happen in your life. And so, yeah, I just look toward being bigger and taking up space, and just owning stuff. And that’s the direction I want to go in my life. Because I think there’s plenty of things that are fine to do. Like, our path isn’t necessarily good or bad. But it can be like, big or small.

Matt Stagliano 36:14
Have you ever felt when you’re around people that make you feel bigger? I love that feeling. Right? That that creativity, that ambition that drive for more than

Mitzi Starkweather 36:28
like everyone at cell value

Matt Stagliano 36:30
workshop? Yeah, like everyone had self value workshop. And I’ll tell you, you know, what creeps in when I’m in, when I’m in company like that, and I look around, and I’m like, you’re a rock star, you’re a rock star, you’re a mogul, I realize I’m projecting a lot of my own insecurities on them, meaning, I feel less than myself, not knowing their entire story, just through my observation. They are this type of person, they are successful, they are beautiful. They’ve never had a struggle in their life, and all their children are golden hair. Beautiful, right? Right. I project these things out. And I have to snap myself out of these fears of talking to people that are exactly the same as me, that are worth exactly the same as me, from a humanity standpoint, right? And that if I’m in that room, then I belong. And it hasn’t been that way. My whole life of feeling bigger. I’ve been, you know, taught to feel smaller, don’t take up space. Don’t annoy anybody. Don’t be a bother. Don’t be in the way, right? Be polite, but then stand over here and don’t talk. You know, all of those things get ingrained in you so that you are feeling less than more often than not. Yeah, so have you ever felt like when you’re in these, these rooms with people that make you feel big? Do you ever feel any of that that fear or insecurity or am I the only weirdo here? No. Oh,

Mitzi Starkweather 38:09
my God? Oh, yeah. I think it’s just been learning to accept that it’s like you, you are the company your key, right? And if you see, if you’re consistently around, like people who you look up to like, then you’re probably on the right path, right? Like, you don’t have to, like prove yourself, like you’re doing it. Right. You don’t have to change anything, you just keep moving toward that. And like you said, you get to this space where you’re like, way less judgmental of yourself. So you’re way less judgmental of everyone else. And then you realize that like, oh, I can, like hold space for anyone like weather. I don’t know, they’re talking to themselves on the street and look like they haven’t showered for a long time. They’re human just like me, or whether they have 2 million followers on Tiktok, whatever. Like, we’re all just humans. Like I think the more we just lean into what lights us up, it makes us feel big, the more we shine and like, we just get better at what we do. And then it just helps everyone like that’s how that’s how you help everyone. That’s how you uplift humanity. That’s how you, you know, encourage people to follow their true path. You just do it for yourself first. Easier said than done.

Matt Stagliano 39:26
Totally easier. You know, when I was at portrait masters this year, Shaka, I was at a bar having a drink, and David son walked up and for those of you that don’t know, David saya is a photographer out of LA. He’s also become kind of tick tock famous because Oh, yeah. People How to pose through tick tock videos and he’s extraordinarily approachable. And there’s this wonderful androgyny in his personality and you never really know where he’s coming from. But that’s the wonderful part of David, but we happen to get to mocking. And now this is a guy that has millions of followers. And he was relatively apprehensive about getting on stage in front of less than 500 people. And I’m like, okay, so if he’s feeling nervous, then he’s human. Oh, okay, he’s human, then we’re exactly like, oh, okay, then I can relate to him at whatever level. And I think, you know, it’s being able to see that person. understand they have the same insecurities and fears and worries that we all have. It puts you on this very even playing field, and reduces any of that idolatry or deification that we have for people that we see online. And we don’t know, we think they’re bigger than they are when they’re really like us. I think that’s been one of the things that’s allowed me to connect in the way that I have with certain folks. And that is, they’re no better no worse. You’re no better no worse than them. Just have a conversation and see where it goes. And that has gotten me through more doors over the years, not being starstruck and just treating people like humans. You know, really,

Mitzi Starkweather 41:11
it’s like with little kids. It’s the same thing, right? Hopefully, you can tell the people who like don’t like kids, but then when a kid walks in the room, and they want to act like they love kids, it’s like that it’s like that energy where you’re just like, it’s okay. I don’t know. I’m like kids are people I only snuggle my own kid. Like not even that much. Really. I’m not snuggly, but like other people’s babies. I’m like, now it’s good. If you need me to hold your baby, so you can go take a shower. I will but I’m not trying to like

Matt Stagliano 41:36
outsource it to Jordan. just outsource it to Joe.

Mitzi Starkweather 41:39
Yeah, I know. He’ll Yeah, he’ll planes. Yeah. Dogs, though. I’ll play with your dog. But yeah, like, I think that’s where Joe judgment comes in. Because I am such a recovering like, judgmental high horse, asshole thing it sister, oh, my God. And I used to be so religious too. So like had that all around it, like the dominant religion of our country to you know, of course. So, oh, I just thought I had all the answers about everything. And everyone who didn’t do it that way, or said anything different. I was like, it’s different, therefore it’s wrong for you. You know, right. Like you said, though, it’s the the idolatry and then the demonization of different people, right, just two extremes. Same idea, right? Because really, all I was doing was I was seeing the people who I really looked up to and was like, Oh, they’re right. I want to be more like them. And I want to impress them. And I want to get praise from them than anyone who looked opposite of that. I was like, Oh, they are so far, you know, they’re so lost. And so I did this in like, I mean, I did it not just with the religion, though. But in like academia, I did it with my photography career, I did it with all these different things. Because really what it came down to was, I was just saying, Actually, all validation must be external. There can be no inner authority, no inner validation. That’s all it was. It was a lack of inner authority. And so as I’ve learned about myself and spend time with myself, and healed through different wounds, I’ve gone to a lot of therapy, and also just found these practices in life that I can use to move through the emotions of life, grief, love, fear all of it, right? The more I can just be like, Oh, things are what they are. And the more guess what my photography portfolio has gotten much more diverse at the same time. I wonder if there’s a connection there, right, and the way that I can connect with more and more people of different walks of life, because it’s like what Terry Hoffart says, there’s no judgment and curiosity. Like we can just be curious about things. And I tell myself all the time, the mantra I started a few years ago was I released the burden of judgment. i In this moment, like if I found myself trying to like fear it when I really thought about someone or what I thought. I said, No, in this moment, I am releasing the burden of having to judge them. Because it’s just a burden on me. Does that do anything for them? No. It’s just something I’m burdening myself with because it means I’m, I need to look at the mirror and think about myself for a minute what I’m really going through. That’s all it is. I’m just choosing to see it in them and not me. My life is so much better now.

Matt Stagliano 44:31
gonna step back just a second. You were talking about all validation being external. I realized in that moment that what we’re really talking about was conditional and unconditional love, that we’re constantly putting conditions on our partners love on the people that we see. I think that that condition the second that we place condition on what we’re expecting from people, right i I gave you this, therefore you have to give me something in return. Well, maybe that’s not the way that they live their life or believe maybe they still have amazing gratitude in their heart for what you’ve given them, and will repay it in their own way down the road. But even the expectation of a repayment is putting conditions on that relationship. Yeah, maybe it’ll take it and run. Right? And they could which you have to release yourself and be like, Okay, I felt good doing the thing for that person. Yeah, that’s it. That’s where my involvement ends, right. And so when we’re putting all of our expectations and need for external validation, where we’re putting that on other people, we’re robbing ourselves of so much, we’re robbing ourselves of the chance to get to know each other, meaning, the ego and the soul, like we don’t get a chance to know ourselves. You also mentioned and I’ve said this in several other places that the root of connection is curiosity. And you said that you have to be curious first, before you can connect to anybody in any situation. And that’s one thing that in all my conversations with you that I’ve had one thing I always listen for, I’ll make a statement. Did they ask me a follow up question? Are they truly curious about what it is? That makes me me? Or are they just waiting for me to stop talking, which will probably never happen? So that they can say something? Curiosity is truly that route of connection. I’ve seen this in conversations with you where you will ask follow up questions. You are truly interested in holding space and being present for the person in front of you. It shouldn’t be rare, but it is. Do you feel like people are holding space for each other better? Do you feel like there’s this? We were talking earlier about cultural change, cultural change towards connection, not just authenticity, but connection with other people? Oh,

Mitzi Starkweather 47:05
that’s a really good question.

Matt Stagliano 47:07
Because we can be authentic all day long. Right? Are we putting in the time and effort to see people for where they are? The only

Mitzi Starkweather 47:15
thing that comes to mind? I’m not sure why it maybe this has something to do with it. I’m thinking about how a couple of weeks ago, several of us friends who will literally met like through the internet, we watch movies together on Discord. And we’ve done it since the pandemic. So some of us met up in Chicago from like Salem, Massachusetts, from Kentucky from Toronto, like, in us from Missouri. Like we all just met up. It was our first time hanging out in person. And we had this amazing weekend together. And we just hung out and we watch movies, we played movie trivia games that I told them after I was like, you know, if I had played this game with any other group of people, I would have been like, Man, I wish I was playing this with my friends from this, you know, this discord chat, like, because it was so much fun. And I think too, like I love movies, because when you connect with someone about movies, you’re just connecting overstory which, that’s what mankind has done for millennia, right? Like sitting around the campfire telling stories like this. Movies are just how we do it now. Because you know, you got to pay for it. You gotta pay for everything here. And, you know, we do everything on our own. But, and yet we like all saw the Barbie movie and talked about it for weeks, right? So it’s like, it keeps us all connected and the things that we so I love hearing what people think about movies, because it tells me so much about them. Sure. All right. So anyway, it was so cool to hang out with them. And we just had a really, really great time. I’m like, I was thinking about it later. I’m like without, you know, the pandemic and without finding that need for that community in that way. Like would this have even happened? I don’t, I don’t think it would have. So I don’t know if that answers the question or not. But I think it came to my mind. Yeah, I

Matt Stagliano 49:00
think it does. I mean, there were there were definitely things that came out of the pandemic, where I know certainly for me, I learned to connect with people in a different way. Like how so it’s very much the person that I needed to meet you in person before we could form any level of relationship, I realized, you know, mainly because I’ve always been in this love hate relationship with being online. I am just Gen X enough to know, the internet sucks and that life existed before it. I used to always make my relationships depend on the fact that I had to meet you in person. And then I always felt more comfortable meeting people in person, switch that up around 2020. And I realized that I could get into deeper, more meaningful conversations with people online as well. A lot of times when I’m in front of someone you’re you’re relegated to X amount of time, a small time period where like We were together at WPI, we had a small amount of time together, well, that’s a minute, an hour a day, small amount of time. With online relationships, it tends to be that you can get deeper, quicker and in shorter amounts of time and extend that time, kind of like we’re doing here. This could be an hour, it could be two hours, it could be, you know, six hours doesn’t matter. I find that my connection to people by being able to do it virtually has strengthened, being in front of people, if that makes sense. So I went from being able to connect with people not connect with people online. Now I’m connecting with people online, which has only strengthened my ability to connect with people. So when you walk into a network meeting, I don’t feel that same. Oh, my God, I just made eye contact with that person. Do I need to go speak to them? What am I going to say to them? I don’t like the way they look. And I like the way that I look. I shouldn’t be here. I don’t want to be here. My socks, right? Yeah. To see how my mind works. So now, I don’t fall into that and and more about just being curious about what they do. Are you here? Are you the bartender? Or do you have a small business that we can talk about? Like, do

Mitzi Starkweather 51:11
you think happens when we die? Tell me, you know, just really appropriate questions to ask people

Matt Stagliano 51:16
love getting into that sort of stuff. Like I will open with that. And then they’re they’re like, they’re all in. And we’re from the same tribe, or All right, Matt’s left alone holding his drink. Yeah.

Mitzi Starkweather 51:29
Or if they like laughing nervously and then start talking about sports. You’re like, Alright, moving on. It’s great. Quick pivot, you know, dude, when someone tells me that their favorite movie is Cool Runnings, I’m like, I know, you know, everything about you know, such an odd poll is oh, maybe it’s, it’s an astounding number of people will say their favorite movie is Cool Runnings. That blows me when someone says a movie I’ve never seen. I’m like, you have discord? Wanna hang out?

Matt Stagliano 51:56
I’ve never seen The Nightmare Before Christmas. And I was talking to someone about this the other day, they’re like, Wait a minute. You’ve been on this planet for 50 years, and you have not seen a Nightmare Before Christmas. I was I have no idea what it’s about because a pumpkin guy and a blue girl. Other than that, I have no idea what it’s about. We may have to jump on Discord, because I feel like I’ve missed a good portion of my adult life. Not being able to see this movie.

Mitzi Starkweather 52:19
Oh my god, I have some friends who like they watch the weirdest shit. And it’s cool, too. Because, okay, we’re also this kind of goes into what I something you said earlier that made me think about like, when you were talking about how like, the being online has, like, over the last few years has evolved how you interact with people in real life. Like, we’re also at the stage now where we’ve had the internet for like a decade, like, pretty much everyone has like, like, available all the time, not just you know, when you go in the computer room and connect, you know,

Matt Stagliano 52:52
you have a computer and they refer to it as the computer room.

Mitzi Starkweather 52:55
Oh, yeah, mind you. But yeah, it’s like, and we remember that, right? But it’s like we’ve all done this long enough now that it’s like it’s taking on a new role. Like it’s because it’s still the wild west of it in so many ways. And that was something that one of my students said when I did my live Keno for my raw portraits course this summer. And he’s a photographer in his 50s. He’s just retired, like, he’s done this forever. And he teaches and stuff. And he was like, you know, I think it’s really interesting that you’re bringing about this type of portrait session at this time, when we’re used to seeing pictures of ourselves. Yeah, because we’ve had these now, long enough, like most of us, except, you know, a few Grandpas out there don’t take selfies like you know from a low angle anymore, like we understand like a decent vehicle and like you know, Zoomers, they make fun of millennials like me for saying selfie. I think that’s so interesting. Because, like, it’s like, it’s just a picture, like, you know, that’s like one of those cringy millennial things, even saying selfie. So I think it’s just so interesting. Like, we’ve had this now for so long. We’ve been used to seeing pictures of ourselves for so long. We’ve had filters for so long. We’ve had these things and it’s like, this broad portrait session that I’ve been offering now and has been like, wildly successful and really taken off and now I’m teaching other photographers how to do it. I’m like, yeah, like seven, eight years ago, that wasn’t the time for this yet. Like it’s just the next phase right? And I was talking to my friend at lunch the other day, she’s, she writes for different like blogs and she ended up she just went to Paris for six weeks to like eat at all these restaurants and write a restaurant guide like best job ever. And she lived in Paris for several years and left in 2017. And then now this was her first time back just like last month. And she said it was really interesting to see because when I left Paris, the fashion you know French women they don’t normally like style their hair and do a full face of makeup but that was never a thing. But when I left Paris, she was like it was still like a matching skirt with tights and like boots and a leather jacket and a collared shirt. She’s like now when I was Just there, everyone just was really nice sweatpants. And I laughed, and I was like, as I am by Mincy. And we both laughed. And I said, No, really, it’s all the same thing. Like, it’s all the stripped down, like, but this is what we do culturally, right? This is what it builds up. It happens in literature, it happens in music and happens in art, we build up, build up, build up, build up, build up, and then it’s just, it’s like the crescendo and then the fall, I’m able to back up again. And I think the more we can accept that as creatives of like, that’s the creative process, and that’s what you’re going to do. And the moment when you think that you’ve done everything you can do, that’s when you just need to flip it all upside down and fuck it up and do it wrong. Because you’re just getting started. Like, it’s time for the next thing now. Like, that’s what this time has been for me. And I don’t know if I’d be here, if everything that happened in the last couple years in my life hadn’t happened. Because it just kind of facilitated like, this space. And this, I don’t know, being me being able to know myself well enough to like, trust myself and know my processes and know like, what I need and what I need to do. And it’s like, yeah, build up that inner authority, so that I can say, like, Oh, now that I know, competently, how to use like four lights and a setup. I’m going to do a project where I just use one. Now that I finally learned Color Balance, well, I’m just gonna do black and white. And guess what my lighting got way better. Like, all these things happen, because they just follow what I wanted to next and how I wanted to connect with people next. And yeah, it’s like when you follow what you love, and what’s lighting you up, like other people want to come along, they care about

Matt Stagliano 56:40
it. And that’s, that’s what instantly drew me to what you’re doing with Rob portraits is I feel like I’ve been kind of poking around the edges of this, try to define my own voice for years. And then suddenly you you encapsulate everything into exactly what I was thinking I wanted to do. But I didn’t because I have this neuro spicy brain. And I overthink and overthinking, overthinking, I overthink, you actually executed on the idea that you had, and you executed it immediately you you learned to trust yourself and making those decisions, at least from what I’m hearing that you got to this point where if it feels right, if it makes me feel bigger, I’m going to trust that no matter what the fear is, and go forward with this course. Even though I’ve done the four light setups and the color balance and all the stuff. I am going forward with this because it feels right to me. And it’s

Mitzi Starkweather 57:38
and I think that the biggest thing I learned in that what what the difference was, was not so it was yeah, it was trusting the authority, but it was also letting go of the result. Like I learned to just say like, because I’m a very type a person I like to know, man, I gotta have a plan for everything. Or I’m just like, I can’t relax, I can’t get into flow. I can’t I got to know what the lower the boundaries were the with the direction, okay, now I can make stuff. And like, with this project, it was going, I know the next step. So we’ll take it. Okay. And I trust that once this step is completed, I will know the one after that. And now, tomorrow, I’m going to Phoenix because I’m going to photograph Sue Brice on Thursday. Do you think when I started this in January, I was like, You know what I’m going to start this project. And then by before Thanksgiving, Sue rice is going to be like, hey, I want to know like that would never like I would have limited what this could have become so much. If I had like sat down and be like, This is how it needs to be. Let me go ahead and check online at what everyone else is doing. Compare it to that, see how it stacks up, see how similar it is, you know, talk to get some validation from these different people No, like, this never would have happened. And it’s like, that’s what I’ve it. And the more you do it, the more you realize, like, this is awesome. And then like, you get cool results. And your body feels good because you’re happy and you’re creating and you’re in a space of love and not like fear, and you’re big and you’re small. And so you’re just like moving and moving. And I remember I said I use that language. To my therapist a few months ago. I said, it’s like running toward what you want. And she was like, let’s see, is it I was she’s like, do you like running? I was like, No, not at all. I’ve never liked running. And she’s like, isn’t it more like getting on a slip and slide? I was like, Yeah, it’s like when you’re on the slip and slide. Why would you want to get off? Like you just keep going because it’s fun. And it’s like that’s the space like that’s the energy. And that’s something where when I talked to my beta group of raw portraits of core students yesterday I said like, when when I talk about finding the light that lights you up, it’s like when you find that right recipe that just makes you do a little dance and my sister she actually teaches like dance therapy called month of movement. It’s phenomenal. I’ve done like three months sessions with her over the years, and it absolutely changed my life. But she always talks about the happy food dance. You eat, and you like it, anyone around you, you’ll notice it right? You do a little happy food dance, because you love it. And you don’t even think about it. And everyone does it. Even people who say Oh, I could never dance, I can’t dance. But it’s also why during my rough portrait sessions, I never use the word dance. But people are moving a lot. Because it just freaks people out. But we all know how to do it. You ever see a two year old? When a song comes on? Oh my gosh, my son like since before he could walk like once he could just balance on something. He was dancing. And he was like doing squats. And we’d always say shake your booty and like, he would do it. And he is just the dancers little guy. And when I photographed him for his 3/3 birthday a few days ago, it was so cool, because I got him in the studio. And we didn’t make a big deal about it. I hadn’t even really planned I wasn’t feeling super great that day. But my husband was also sick. But then our house cleaner was scheduled to come. So we had to like leave the house for two hours. Like let’s just go in the studio. So we go to the studio and then my son’s like running around. He goes through the backdrop and I’m like, Oh yeah, it’s your third birthday this week. Maybe take some photos of you. Like literally that’s where I had that. So I pull up my light. I have my you know, as I am like just nice backdrop setup, whatever. And do you think I had to tell him to start dancing? Do you think I had to tell him how to pose Do you think? Just start shooting. I photographed him for like a few minutes. And then I was like, again feeling a little bit queasy. So I stopped but like he would have kept going. He was so into it. And it was just so cool to watch him. So he wasn’t when I showed him the back of the camera. He’d be like, Ooh, that’s a good one. Because that’s what I always say. He didn’t say like, Oh, my face looks bad. Or like, Oh, that’s not or my hair’s not good. Like he was just like, oh, that’s a good one. And then he was like wanting to be Gamarra like he’s in his gamma phase right now, just like so he’s always going around. And one of the things I’ve always noticed about him in the last few months, is anytime you get a camera out to take a photo, do you know how he poses big, he doesn’t make himself smaller, he makes himself bigger. That’s incredible. And I’m like, our bodies don’t lie. And you’re like, you look at a child. Like, that’s it. That’s all it is. When I saw it, I’m like, Oh, we basically just did it as I am session. I just didn’t have to call it that I didn’t have to prep him. I didn’t have to give him a nice talk. Pep Talk to help him work up the courage. But that’s what we just did. Because he can exist as he is because no one’s told him he’s wrong yet.

Matt Stagliano 1:02:48
It’s such a clean, little hard drive any gold up with malware? Yeah, I think I think it speaks to this rock portrait course and what you have going on the focus on just being there in the act of creation, with somebody sharing the moment being present, you know, you’d mentioned that we’re so used to seeing pictures of themselves. But those pictures are always again, taken conditionally. Let me take this picture. But let me also throw a filter on it. Let me make sure I take seven of them so that I have the good one. Right. And so there’s conditions on everything. What I’m noticing is that you live now seems to be from what I’ve heard over the past hour, you’re living this unconditional life. And I love I love thinking about you that way. Because oftentimes I see you. And in that moment of comparison, being like, it’s because she’s executing us because there’s no x, there’s no expectations, it’s because it’s unconditional. And it always brings me back to a place of center. So whenever I see you doing something big, I’m just so incredibly proud to know who you are and what you’ve gone through and how you’re getting there and how you’re doing all of this. Because the world needs more of that needs less conditions, more unconditional stuff happening.

Mitzi Starkweather 1:04:14
Thanks for saying that. That’s really beautiful. Yeah, and I think like my mantra ever since I kind of got the clear with the cancer stuff, is I didn’t survive cancer to just blink, you know, to just not share this thing that lights me up or to just do this thing because that’s what everyone expects or to whatever and I think it’s like, when we can see our life as as precious and the time as as valuable as it is like when we value ourselves and our life and our message and what we have to offer were just like, how can you just not like Well then why am I even here? You know? So I don’t know if you need clarity just Sit down and write a list like, hey, if I find out I have cancer tomorrow, what do I want to do? Oh, yeah, so like somebody Sue’s head was about productivity, she’s like, the best productivity is clarity. And it’s like, so many of us just are spinning our wheels all the time to be productive. But we don’t have any idea where we’re going.

Matt Stagliano 1:05:17
It’s amazing to watch you from afar. And knowing you for I really thought we knew each other a year longer than we apparently do. Watching month over month over month, one of the most true and centered people that I see online, you’re a constant inspiration for me, personally, and I know that you are for countless others. I cannot tell you what, you being here with me today meant, and I appreciate you more than you could possibly know, just for being exactly who you are. So Mitzi, thank you so, so much for being here. And in the effort to not make this a seven hour conversation. I’m gonna end this here. So maybe we can do a part two at some point.

Mitzi Starkweather 1:06:07
Absolutely. And Matt, before we close out, I just want to say thank you for being who you are. And at these different events, like from W PPI to workshops, like, it’s whenever I see you at these things, and I still get social anxiety, I’m still nervous at it, like I see you and I’m like, oh, there’s a friend, like I can go hang out with him. And you care and you, you are so good at your generator, you generate shit, you make stuff you speak truth to people you point things out, and that is so valuable. And like the value that you bring, not just from what you create as a person, but also how you uplift our community is so amazing. So thank you for doing that. And for Yeah, being okay, just being a man who can be vulnerable, because we need more of those. And I think that that is super cool. And I am very excited to see what you make next. Thank

Matt Stagliano 1:06:59
you for saying all of that. It’s it’s a weird space to navigate, as you know, Mitzi, thank you. Let’s talk again soon. I don’t know if I’ll see you at WPI or not.

Mitzi Starkweather 1:07:09
But I’ll be there.

Matt Stagliano 1:07:11
All right, we’ll catch up on the road at some point. Good luck with the shoot with Sue. I think that’s an amazing accomplishment. You’re phenomenal at what you do. It’s going to be a breeze. Thank you. All right. Bye. Until next time, I’ll talk to you later.


Popular Post:

Related Posts:

Generator Ep. 017 – Adam Metterville: The Freedom of Freelance Videography

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Adam Metterville – a freelance videographer and video editor for over 20 years

With experience in commercial and corporate video, weddings, interviews, broadcast, motion pictures or Web series, Adam has literally been there and done that in all aspects of modern videography. We talk about mixing business with hobbies, some of Adam’s best advice for new videographers, and the importance of always having snacks.

For more information about his work and how to hire Adam, please visit his website at or follow him on social media @adam.metterville

Even Medusa Needs Headshots

Medusa has always been portrayed as ugly, sinister, and monstrous. I’ve always found her to be beautiful, so when she wanted headshots and personal branding images, I was onboard immediately.

Related Posts:

Let’s Socialize