The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter is a podcast that promotes self-care, healing and wellness through exploring internal well-being, relationships and connection to others, and social issues.
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The Heart of the Matter




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Jun 29, 2021

For episode 61 of THOTM, we discuss the sentencing of former police officer Derek Chauvin, teaching critical race theory in public schools, and the benefits of rest and self-care.

Jun 6, 2021

Thanks for joining us for THOTM episode #60. Michael and Jermaine discuss gun control, managing work stress, and the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 23, 2021

Michael and Jermaine honor Mental Health Awareness Month by answering questions such as:

How is therapy helpful?

What is most rewarding about being a therapist?

Why it’s important that therapists attend to their own mental health?


Apr 25, 2021

For episode 58, we talked to Jamilah Stanfield, creator of and author of “When Daddy’s Gone”. Jamilah talked about the unique challenges faced by black women married to service members, raising her 3 daughters, her background as a mental health professional, and the people and experiences that have influenced her life. Jamilah is a real life superhero...someone who sees a need, takes action and steps up for others. We hope you enjoy our conversation.

Apr 12, 2021

Our guest on this episode of THOTM is Luisa Ortega. Luisa is a mother, counselor and doctoral student in Organizational Change and Leadership at USC. She is a passionate activist for Indigenous communities and fierce advocate for decolonialism . We talked about parenting in the current social climate, working with at-risk teen girls, spirituality and decolonizing education. It’s rare to meet someone as brilliant and sincere, so enjoy this conversation with Luisa Ortega!

Mar 28, 2021

We had the pleasure of talking with Ernie McCray, a man who has worn many hats and is loved and admired by many. He’s a former college basketball star, an educator for over 3 decades, writer, poet, actor and even dabbled in stand-up comedy. At 82 years old, Ernie McCray is one of the coolest and most inspiring people you’ll ever meet.

Ernie described his upbringing and influences in Tucson Arizona, experiences with racism, and becoming college basketball star. He talked about his long career as a teacher/principal, and passion for helping children from marginalized communities. Ernie also shared his personal stories and wisdom about relationships, love and loss. We’re appreciative that he gave us his time...hope you enjoy this conversation!

Mar 16, 2021

Ansley Curtis is a licensed marriage and family therapist, who specializes in working with children, adolescents and families, and in the treatment of trauma. Ansley talked about her inspiration for becoming therapist, her approach to working with children who’ve experienced trauma, and the importance of relationships in healing from trauma.

Feb 26, 2021

Alex Amar Kannan is an attorney and independent filmmaker. He operates a practice (Kannan Law Firm, Inc.) in Spring Valley, Ca that focuses on immigration, criminal and personal injury cases. However, we talked more about his passion for making documentaries and his advocacy for immigrant and transgender communities. Alex also shared his approach to personal wellness and managing job stress.

For more info on Kannan Law Firm, Inc., visit the website:

Feb 14, 2021

For episode 53, we chat with Ashton Szabo, an authentic tantric yoga teacher and educator.  We discuss the many applications of yoga for the healing journey.  We explore topics such as the embodiment of our experience, transcendence, and connection.  Join us as we discover how yoga can be used to bring us back to the body to get connected with ourselves and life.

Connect with Ashton


Jan 31, 2021

For episode 52, we have returning guests, licensed psychologist, Dr. Ricky Pope and mental health counselor, Nathan Klein. We have an in-depth discussion about grief, how men deal with loss, and mental health awareness in hip-hop. Enjoy!

Jan 10, 2021

On episode 51, we are joined by Michael Love and Nathan Klein. Michael is a counselor at Irvine City College. Nathan is a counselor at San Diego City College and a private practice clinician. We discussed the need for more men and particularly black men in the helping professions, their experiences being black male counselors, and the value that men bring to the counseling and mental profession.

Dec 14, 2020

On our 50th episode, we were joined by Seth Johnson to talk about estrangement and her organization Together Estranged.  She shared about her story and difficult life events which resulted in her own personal experience of estrangement.  She created Together Estranged to provide support and services to adults who have become estranged from their families.  We talk about mental health, healing, and various circumstances related to estrangement.

Connect with them:


Nov 29, 2020

Dr. Ricky Pope is a psychologist at San Diego State University’s Counseling & Psychological Services.

Dr. Pope is an engaging speaker, with a calming voice, and joined THOTM to share his journey from dropping out of high school to becoming a psychologist.

He describes his early struggles in school, navigating higher education as an African American male, the positive impact of mentors, and his inspiration for wanting to help and heal others. 

Nov 10, 2020

In this episode, we speak with returning guest LMFT Tracy Gilmour-Nimoy.  We discuss her pregnancy and infant loss, her grieving and healing process, and how that is shaping her therapeutic work.  We also discuss Women's health and other topics that are sure to move you emotionally as we explore these tough topics that impact so many people.


Books and resources mentioned in this episode:
Connect with Tracy at her website.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (every therapist should read this!)
It's OK That You're Not OK by Megan Devine 
Alexandra Sacks M.D., reproductive psychiatrist
Additional resources:

Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Health Alliance (local resource)

Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support

Empty Cradle: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Education, & Remembrance

Postpartum Dads

Postpartum Men

Sep 21, 2020

For episode 47, we “rewind and relax” with some fun and introspective questions...also reflect on current events.

Sep 6, 2020

This August marked the 15 year anniversary since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, leaving New Orleans in devastation. For episode 46, we talked with Willie Harris, who survived hurricane Katrina after 6 days of fighting for his life after the storm hit. He describes how he survived the elements, dealing with racism and trauma, rebuilding his life, and how this experience has shaped his perspective on our current social climate. 

Aug 22, 2020

In this episode we speak with Merceds Tiggs and Otesha Bremond about the intersection of cooking and mental health.  We explore their business model of integrating therapy and healing through food and cooking.  We talk about mindful cooking, and eating, as well as other practices relating to how we connect with our food, the process of preparation, and how that contributes to our mental health.  

Visit Eight 16 website

Connect with Eight 16 on Facebook

Watch the episode in video


Aug 9, 2020

Lisa McJunkin is a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in working with trauma. She’s also an adjunct professor at Point Loma Nazarene University and co-founder of Enlightened Vibrations, where she provides therapeutic services. Lisa explains the various ways that traumatic stress impacts individuals, in a way that’s concise and understandable. She also describes her holistic approach to healing trauma, integrating both eastern and western healing practices, that attend to the mind, body and spirit.

To learn more about Lisa’s work and therapeutic services provided at Enlightened Vibrations, visit their website:

To learn more about PTSD read 101 of Understanding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Trauma Recovery Options visit the link below:

Here is the video for the episode if you prefer to watch:

Jul 26, 2020

Dr. Mitch Hamilton is a business marketing professor at Loyola Marymount University and founder/CEO of Rethink Creative Agency.  He talks about finding his niche in marketing, how companies can effectively engage in social change, working on projects with Nipsey Hussle and Snoop Dogg, and balancing work and family during this social climate.

Rethink Creative Agency

Episode #43 YouTube companion video

Jul 12, 2020

On this episode of THOTM, Jermaine Simpson and Michael Ceccon are joined by Laila Aziz...a community activist, law student and parent of twin boys. This conversation is about having “the talk” with our children. However, this is not the “where do babies come from?” talk. Instead, it’s the unfortunately talk that many black parents have with their sons about what to do when stopped by police. We also discuss mental health in Black communities and balancing community activism with parenting, career, and personal wellness.

Jun 28, 2020

Chrissy Hunter is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Beaumont, Texas. She is also a return guest to THOTM (episode 7). Chrissy joined us for a discussion on white privilege, answering questions such as “what does it mean?”, “why does it matter?” and “what to do about it?”

Jun 14, 2020

Khalid Alexander is an English professor at San Diego City College, activist and co-founder of Pillars of the Community in Southeast San Diego. Khalid talks about racist policing of Black communities, the murder of George Floyd, local protests, and “defunding the police”. He is a return guest to THOTM, so check out episode #14 Post Election Reflections   


Check out this article on the topic of police training and abuse of power: Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop

May 31, 2020

On episode #39, our guests are Dr. Ngonzi Truth Chrushshon and Dr. Mychal Odom. Dr. Truth is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology, with a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Odom, is a history and black studies professor for the San Diego Community College District and a community activists. We discussed police violence against black people, mental health implications, and ways to take action.



Tapping Technique to Neutralize Trauna


Finding a therapist:

A dialogue on Retraumatization in the Black Community

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

11:00am - 1:00pm PDT  


Dangerous Images to Avoid


Check out our companion Zoom video for this episode on YouTube from which the episode audio is pulled.

May 14, 2020

Episode 38 is a continuation of our last conversation, which we addressed self-care and social distancing. This week we touch on the COVID-19 impact on mental health, parenting, and creating new habits for maintaining wellness.

May 3, 2020

Self-care has become one of those pop culture terms that’s used so often and loosely, that it can easily lose it’s value.


So...what is self care? Why is it important? How do we apply it while in self-quarantine?


For episode #37, we provide meaning and context to the term and talk about our own ways of maintaining our wellness.

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