Our guest this week on A Voice and Beyond is Giji Dennard, whose journey began with the pivotal moment of meeting her father for the very first time at the age of 17. This encounter sparked a lifelong passion for understanding and fostering healthy father-child relationships, which have become her professional signature.

Giji’s speaking prowess first ignited in high school, where she clinched the state championship in oratory, and since then she has dedicated more than five decades to engaging and inspiring audiences with her captivating narratives, candidness, and empathy. With a multifaceted career spanning over three decades, Giji has gained insight into the many aspects of the human experience. Her professional career has included leading roles in multinational corporations and training thousands of professionals over the last 20 years. Giji is also the author of four acclaimed books.

In today’s show, Giji’s conversation with me explores topics around healing father-child relationships, unleashing personal and professional greatness, forgiveness, and the pursuit of passion. This is a beautiful and inspirational interview with Giji Dennard.

Find Giji Online

In this Episode

  • 00:00 – Introduction and Guest Welcome
  • 06:48 – Giji’s Professional Journey and Passion
  • 13:01 – Meeting Her Father and Relationship Dynamics
  • 21:13 – Inspiration for “Hungry for Wholeness” and Healing
  • 34:19 – The Three R’s of Healing and Forgiveness
  • 51:57 – Learning to Receive and Exploring Identity
  • 1:08:07 – Conclusion and Final Insights


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hey, it’s Marisa Lee here and I have some really exciting news to share with you. Just recently, I launched my performance mastery coaching programme, which has been designed to help a forming artists and other creatives just like you to take centre stage in their lives. Whether you’re mid career and simply feeling stuck, or you’re someone who is just about to embark on your career journey, and need help getting started, my unique coaching programme is for you. To celebrate the launch. I’m currently offering a free 30 minute discovery session, so you can learn more about the programme and how I can help you go to the next level in your life. My first intake is already seeing incredible results. So don’t miss out, go visit Dr. Marisa Lee naismith.com forward slash coaching or just send me a direct message and let’s get chassis. Remember, there’s no time like now to take centre stage in your life.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:25

It’s Marisa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include healthcare practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialised fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode. Our guest this week on a voice and beyond is Gigi Dennard, whose journey began with the pivotal moment of meeting her father for the very first time at the age of 17. This encounter sparked a lifelong passion for understanding and fostering healthy father child relationships, which have become her professional signature. Gigi speaking prowess, first ignited in High School, where she clinched the state championship in oratory. And since then, she has dedicated more than five decades to engaging and inspiring audiences with her captivating narratives candidness and empathy. With a multifaceted career spanning over three decades, Gigi has gained insight into the many aspects of human experiences. Her professional career includes leading roles in multinational corporations and training 1000s of professionals over the last 20 years. Ji Ji is also the author for highly acclaimed books. In today’s show, G G’s conversation with me explores topics around healing father child relationships, unleashing personal and professional greatness, forgiveness, and the pursuit of passion. This is a truly beautiful, and inspirational interview with Gigi Dennard. So, without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:46

Welcome to a voice and beyond we have a very special guest, we have Gigi Dennard. How are you Gigi?

Giji Dennard  04:56

I’m delighted to be here, Dr. Marissa. It’s a wonderful All day over here, even though it’s raining. Oh,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:02

last time we spoke, wasn’t there a hurricane coming through?

Giji Dennard  05:06

I do believe yes, we’re kind of in the middle of storm season. So we’ve got another one lurking in the background right now.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:12

Oh my gosh. So your background that you’re showing that is on view right now, it’s not exactly how things may be appearing.

Giji Dennard  05:21

Not at all. This is my wish I were here.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:27

Okay. This is like all smoke and mirrors. Yes, yes. Yes. Because when that tornado was coming through last time, well, that hurricane, you had that beautiful background, and I’m thinking that looks like the most amazing weather. Right?

Giji Dennard  05:45

Exactly. It’s like, you’ve

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:48

gotta love technology. Yes. He let’s talk about you. Your professional journey includes leading roles in multinational corporations, and training 1000s of professionals over the last 20 years. As a national merit scholar, you hold a bachelor in print journalism from Howard University, and you’re a doctor of law from Stanford Law School. You are also the author of four acclaimed books. Well, you explore themes around healing father child relationships, unleashing personal and professional greatness, and the pursuit of passion. That is quite a diverse journey it is. So let’s just hear about your story. Gigi, how did all this come about?

Giji Dennard  06:48

All of that came about I think the academic journey sort of just, you know, grew out of recognised skill sets. You know, I was always good at writing. I was always good at speaking even from as early as elementary school, right? So my family, I think, you know, always said, You should be a lawyer. You’d make a great writer, you know, that kind of thing was Yes, I heard a lot. And it, you know, made sense enough. You know, I like writing, I like speaking, okay, I did forensics and in high school, and ended up being a state champion orator, and I thought, okay, you know, I like this persuasive speaking kind of stuff. But then when I actually got into school, and started doing some of these things professionally, writing, working in the legal field, I found it very unfulfilling, I’m afraid, you know, was like, okay, I can do this, but I don’t really enjoy doing this all the time. So it was really, I kind of abandoned it all, and started a very eclectic sort of journey of trying out several different industries to kind of see what fit. And I discovered that what I really, really enjoy is Client Services. I love being able to help people sort of at a more personal and professional level. But it’s because I like seeing people become all that can be, I discovered, I really kind of have a knack for sort of both identifying pain and people but also promise, yes, and I can help them navigate through their struggles, but also help them see the promise that they often don’t see in themselves to realise their full potential. And I discovered that is really what I love. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:40

And you use the word empathy. Yes. So usually, I think that when a person is empathetic, it’s because they have been through stuff themselves. So they can empathise with somebody usually, did you start doing some work on yourself personally and professionally, first, before you started working with others? Or was it did that empathy and that great ability to help other people come from what you had been through yourself?

Giji Dennard  09:15

Thankfully, I think in my case, it kind of came in reverse, because it was almost like I identified in late in life, that this actually existed in me. I mean, I can even remember in elementary school, that other kids who were having like issues at home, would come to me to talk about their issues at home. Now, you know, at the time, you’re not thinking about like, why why are they telling you this? You know, you end up having this conversation with this kid and I could empathise with what they were going through like, Wow, that must be really tough and ask them questions about how they were dealing with it and stuff like that. I did that like early on, like, I don’t know, like I was born to do that, you know, kind of thing. Yes. It really, it really was only later that I sort of captured it as, oh, well, I’ve really been doing this all my life. When I kind of looked back and saw it,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:12

I get that, I totally get that because I feel that’s been my life too. I’ve always been the person to that everyone comes to with all their problems. And even in the family. Whenever there’s a family drama, it’s always come to me, and I’ll fix it years.

Giji Dennard  10:30

I remember I had an aunt who was going through a very difficult time. And I’m kind of one of the youngest. I have a gazillion first cousins. But I’m kind of on the younger end of that set. I have a few younger, but I’m toward the end, kind of the youngest girl. And I was amazed that at 18. You know, this aunt of mine, who was much older, you know, maybe in her 60s, was asking me what I felt about her recovery journey and what she should do when you know, and really, it was like, she had talked to all the other adults in the room. And then she was like, but I really want to know what you think I should do. And so I was standing there going, Okay, I’m, I’m 18 What in the world? How would I know this? But that, that that was a pattern. That was something that happened a lot. And I learned that people would open up, you know, and share maybe things with me that they didn’t share with a lot of people, sometimes hopes and dreams, you know, not just pain points. You know, my grandmother and I sort of became best friends when I went to college. Really? Yeah. And we would sit up and talk for hours, the first night, I would come home to visit. And she would share things that she had never told anybody like how she always wanted to go back to school and get a degree. He was like, Oh, my goodness, I wish I had known that when I was living here. I could hope to do that. Yeah, but that kind of thing happens just all the time. Wow, you

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:03

must have such a big heart and a warmth about you.

Giji Dennard  12:07

I do think it’s a warmth. Yeah, I do care about people. And I feel deeply. So I think people feel that, you know, yeah, I’m very much about being genuine. You know, I don’t even pretend well, so I don’t try. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:22

yes. But I think you probably listen. Yes. That’s the key, I think is actually when people come to you. It’s because they know they’re going to be heard. And so you have created a programme along this journey of yours. You’ve also written these four books. And I’d like to start by asking you about one particular book, The Hungry for wholeness. What was the aspiration for this book? And what what was it that you wanted to share within this book?

Giji Dennard  13:01

Well, it’s interesting, I think this is this is sort of, you know, you have those defining experiences. And I think this was one of them. I actually met my father for the first time when I was 17 years old. Wow.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:14

How did

Giji Dennard  13:16

that happen? Okay, so we can go there.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:18

Let’s go there.

Giji Dennard  13:20

Let’s go there. So I am a honeymoon baby. Okay, my parents met in a very odd sort of way and corded in an even more odd sort of way. They met at a funeral. I’ve always said since this, you know, this is a sign don’t do it. They met at a funeral have a kind of mutual relative. I am related to my dad kind of in two different ways. And so he’s my father, but he’s also my uncle’s first cousin, because my mother’s sister married his first cousin. And that’s why my mother was actually at the funeral accompanying her sister of this relative of theirs. So they meet, they fall in instant something. But he’s in Delaware. She’s in Florida. She returns to Florida, they write letters. They only write letters for months and months. You

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:13

can’t have a baby riding through writing. Exactly. So

Giji Dennard  14:17

they write letters for a while. The only other time she sees him before the wedding is she goes to his ordination. He was actually in the process of becoming an ordained minister. She went to Delaware went to his ordination came back before they continue to write letters. He came to Florida they got married and boom, there I was. So but even more interesting way. I did not meet my father did not see me for the first time until I was six months old. Why? Because my mother left my dad while she was six months pregnant, but

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:53

she’d only met him twice. How could she decide whether she wanted to pay him or not? Oh my because this is like the young and the restless.

Giji Dennard  15:04

Exactly. And it took me a while to really understand that part. Even when I met him. He said it a few times. I said, Well, we want to go back. That’s fine. So the first time you ever saw me, I was six months old. So I too, had questions. So that was the point in which he came to, you know, rescue his family back, they got back together for a another short period, six months, two years, something like that, of which I have no recollection, because I was only six months old. And then she left him permanently and forbade him to see me. Okay, wow. So that’s kind of where the why that didn’t happen. And then, because my mother had a very strong personality, and she had a lot of siblings, everybody knew who I was. And like I said, I’ve got this dual relationship, but my uncle was like, hey, no, no, no, I am not messing with her because my dad would try to get information about Yeah. He’d be like, yeah, no, I’m not in it. I’m sorry. You know, you guys are gonna have to work that out. So fast forward, when I was a senior in high school, I believe. Okay, so I got to digress slightly. When I was 14, I was at my aunt’s house, the one who married the uncle, right, who married my father. Yes, one

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:19

of the funeral people, right, one of the funeral people, the one who was at the funeral, right?

Giji Dennard  16:25

So we’re just hanging out in her house. And out of the blue. I said, I always wanted a brother named Ricky and a brother named Mickey. Just like, I don’t even know where that came from just it came out. She kind of went pale. And then I saw this look change in her face, and I knew something was about to happen. And it was kind of like, she was like, forget it. I don’t even care. She can be mad, I don’t care. She gets on the phone. And she calls my father’s father. Because her child and I share the same grandparents. Right. So I start having this clandestine phone relationship with my father’s father at 14. Okay. So I’ve been sort of like priming the pump for this for a couple of years. And finally, one day I say to my mother, is it okay, if I invite my father to my high school graduation, which she said, I don’t care if you can find it. So I had a plan. The plan was to get the invitation to his father, who would then get it. Right. And that’s what happened. And unfortunately, he didn’t get it until the night before my graduation. He had actually just left Florida, which is where I was living. He had just left Miami. I was in Fort Lauderdale. He actually lived in Georgia. And he had just gotten back home from a trip and had no idea we were right by each other in the city.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:54

Wow. Because Fort Lauderdale and Miami are very close. Very

Giji Dennard  17:59

close. Very, very close. Yeah, yeah. So he came that July. But we talked that night the night before. So that was sort of like the night that changed everything. Talking to your father, for the first time on the phone, when you’re 17 was quite an overwhelming experience. I really didn’t talk much. I mostly just cried in silence. Because I I couldn’t even process. What was he like? So that’s where this gets interesting and how the inspiration comes? He shows up. And my mom always just say you have a Dick Tracy had like your dad, like the shape of our face. And I could see that. So when I saw what I was thinking, you know, out loud, like all these thoughts, and I was like, Oh, wow, my eyes are just like this. But the other thing that I found out is that we wrote, just like the voice and style of our writing was so similar. It was kinda crazy. Wow. And we decided to share and write our story together, like from our perspectives, our different perspectives. Yes. And that’s really how it began. It began with just my dad and I wanting to write our own story. But what happened was, as we shared it with people, it really impacted people like I had no idea that there were so many other walking wounded. You know, people who were missing this thing that they wanted to have with their father, whether it was because of an absence or whether it’s because of abuse or whatever it was, there were all of these people hurting that I discovered as we began to share our little story started out just a little story, just our story. Yes. And then after that happened a few times people were taking it into prisons, people were taking it into classrooms. You know, people were crying in class, you know, it was just like, wow, okay, this is really impactful. I took it and shared it with a professor of mine who’ve been kinda like a surrogate father to me in college. And he said, you know, if you added some other stories to this, this could be really a powerful book. I’ve never even considered that. I was like, Yeah, it took a decade. But that’s exactly what happened. So I ended up incorporating stories, doing a lot more research, getting in touch with, you know, organisations that were really involved in this space, learning, you know, the nuances and a whole lot of stuff around it, and then interviewing, you know, lots and lots of people and ended up, you know, kind of condensing it to these stories of six of us. Yes, then that’s, that’s how the book got born and published. And I was fortunate enough to have received the endorsement of the of Ken Canfield, who was the founder of the National Centre for fathering. So he was the person then who recommended that I be a part of this inaugural father shift conference in 2012. In Portland, and I discovered along the way, that there are very few women in this space, really. So my voice was particularly missed. And, and needed and different.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  21:13

Right. Yeah. So just getting back to the book for a moment. Your when these stories started to come through from other people that were contributing to your book? Yes. Were they stories of hope? What What was the general message that was coming through? Like, if I was reading that book? Would I feel sadness, like did the stories and happily some of

Giji Dennard  21:39

them did. Some of them didn’t? I tend to be a realist. And I do think that as people are dealing with healing in this space, it’s important to understand that it might not. And in this relationship, the way that you were hoping it would end, but that doesn’t mean you can be healed. So yes, there is hope. There is hope for healing, regardless of whether the restoration actually takes place. Okay. And that’s kind of how I approach that. i It’s definitely hopeful that healing can happen home, this can happen. But everybody doesn’t end up in a happy ending with their father. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get to be home and they don’t get to be healed.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:27

Okay. What’s your relationship like with your father now?

Giji Dennard  22:32

Well, my father actually is deceased now. But we had 17 wonderful years. Oh, today is actually his birthday. Oh, happy

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:42

birthday. Happy heavenly birthday.

Giji Dennard  22:47

Yeah, have very special to me that I get to do this on his birthday.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:52

This is we’re honouring him. What was

Giji Dennard  22:56

Robert Detweiler? Okay, Robert McNeil Detweiler. Yeah, okay,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  23:00

Robert, this is for you this, this episode is dedicated to you for your birthday. So now you say there are five types of fathers. Yes. You have a chart for these? Can you describe what these types of fathers are? What are they personality types are traits that you

Giji Dennard  23:21

talk about? Probably more, I would say traits, traits and behaviours. And so these, these were actually I give credit where credit to Zeus, these were not my original list. These actually came through a sermon that was done by our assistant pastor who was talking about fathering. And maybe for Father’s Day message, I don’t even remember how it came about initially. And I tweaked it slightly. But this talks about sort of the the negative side, this list began. And then there’s a corresponding positive side, right. So one is the absent father, which is the type of father I had. And the reason for the list is to sort of help people sort of identify their experience. Because quite frankly, a lot of people are in touch with it. Yes, they may know they had a bad experience or non existent experience, but really not being able to name it. And by giving it a name and giving it characteristics, it gives them something to work with to be freed from it. Right. So one is an authoritarian father, which is somebody that kind of rules with a, you know, strong hand everything’s about the rules, you know, really strict with

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  24:40

an iron fist, we would say yes, with an iron fist. It’s my way or the highway. Yes, all the the back of my hand or my belt exactly,

Giji Dennard  24:50

pretty much, although that also leads to the abusive father. So authoritarian may or may not be abusive. But the abusive father could be physically abusive, but also could be emotionally abusive, in terms of language use demeaning, you know, kind of language could be psychologically abusive. So there’s the abusive father and the authoritarian, sometimes they overlap. Sometimes they related sometimes they exist in the same person. Yes, then there’s the apathetic father. And that’s the father who may be around, but not really there. And a lot that exists like way more than I’d like to anybody would like to see, I think, you know, where you have a father who’s physically in a home, but not physically engaged in a relationship with their children.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  25:41

So that could also be an absent father were the correct. So I can see that a lot of these would overlap. Like you said, Father, would be that authoritarian father, right.

Giji Dennard  25:56

Yeah. Yeah. on steroids. Yes. And so they think there is a lot of synergy. And so you may identify that your father overlapped in several areas, but it helps people sort of anchor themselves for the journey of healing. Because you kind of have to know where you’re starting to know where you need to go to. Yes. And a lot of what I do is I call my workshops and jumpstart, it’s a process, it’s not an event, you know. So I help people jump started by helping them identify what their experience really was, like giving words to a giving language to it, which people often don’t have.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:41

So when these people come to your workshops, are they people that usually know that their relationship problems or issues that they’re having personally stemmed from their relationships with their fathers,

Giji Dennard  26:56

not necessarily, what they typically know, is that either they know they didn’t have a father at all. And that’s brought them some grief in some way. Or they know that they’ve had a bad relationship with their father, they’re often not aware of how it’s impacting other relationships. And, you know, they could identify maybe certain activities that happened or something like that, but not really be able to talk about emotionally how that impacted them and not see at all, like how they’re reliving this. A lot of times, that takes a long time. Now, sometimes I meet people in the workshops, who are a little older, you know, let’s say a woman who’s been through three marriages, and has now he’s gone to sort of work on okay, what is the problem here, kind of thing, they may have gotten a little bit more insight into how this may, in some ways, point back here, some kind of way. But a lot of people really, they know, they’re hurt. But they often don’t have language for they don’t have anybody to kind of help point them to a pathway to like, how do I get unhurt? How do I get unstuck? And what do I do if, you know, I just never had the opportunity, you know, I’ve got friends, you know, who’ve never met their father. You know, and, and so recognising that that gap has produced something in you, that you may or may not be aware of, I want to help try to bring that to the surface. So you can be aware, because you can’t really fix it, until you’re aware that it’s there. But if I sat down with them to talk about their relationships, or lack thereof, or how difficult it is for them, to interact with men, whether personally or professionally, sometimes it comes out that you see it more in your interactions with people at work, particularly people people have had an authoritarian father, you know, they end up working for in the tar authoritarian, male person,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  29:12


Giji Dennard  29:15

They’re liable to recreate all of the drama that was in that relationship with that parent, unwittingly, not even intentionally because they’re reacting to something that they may not be conscious that they’re really reacting to.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  29:32

With you and your personal story.

Giji Dennard  29:36


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  29:36

Having met your father at 17. Yes. How did that shape your future relationships like beyond that point, light? Did your relationship with yourself change once you met him? Yes.

Giji Dennard  29:51

Absolutely. So let me back up before I met him, I started dating when I was 16. Most of the men I dated We’re significantly older. I’ve dated men from seven to 14 years my senior as a teenager, right? I am absolutely convinced. Yes. That that was very much my yearning for a father’s love. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  30:16

Clearly, you know, yes. Clearly,

Giji Dennard  30:20

like literally all right. So so then I mean, my dad, and my father was very nurturing. So there’s, there’s that little piece too. So I had sort of an interesting role reversal in my household. So I’ve grown up with a mother, who is actually very authoritarian and not very nurturing without my dad. Right. So I’m kind of emotionally not in a good place.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  30:55

Yet, yes, yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Yes.

Giji Dennard  30:58

So I’m not, you know, handling any of this while I’m dating these older guys. But, you know, it’s not like my mom and I are talking. So I’m just kind of swimming out here by myself.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:11

Yeah, you had no guidance. I had no guidance, you had no one to point you in the right direction, or give you perspective?

Giji Dennard  31:19

Correct. So then, instead of my insteps, my dad who was not only nurturing but also like, crazy protective, like crazy protective. So you know, and I remember my mom saying, at one point, some guy was dating, she was like, your father would never let you date these guys. Right. And I thought that was interesting. I mean, I remember thinking like, Oh, that’s interesting, kind of what does that mean? I didn’t have a picture for that. No, you know, and so it was kind of like, what does that mean? But after meeting my dad, he became very clear. You know, he became very protective, like, immediately, you know, like, no guy is going to talk to you without coming through me first kind of thing. I was like, Okay, who are you? And where did this come from? You know, but that was very a really natural response for him. I’m also his youngest daughter. So yeah, it was like, nothing was happening. He was also the very affectionate, so much so that it would get us in trouble. Because like, not everybody in the world knew I existed, right? Okay, yes. So I go to visit him once, actually, the only Christmas we ever spent together and went to spend Christmas with him, we go to the store. And we always a lot of times walk with our arms around each other. So we walk into this store in his neighbourhood, the lady at the register, starts glaring at him. And me, and I’m like, oh, boy, are knocking down his arm around me. And he’s like, trying to introduce me to her. But she is like, saying, so how’s your wife? That kind of thing. He missed it completely. Yes. As guys sometimes do. Totally missed all of that. So I said, Do you did note, you know, she’s gonna probably call. Oh, you’re home, right? To say that you were with some young chick at the store. Right? But so he was really affectionate, really nurturing, and really easy to be with. So what happened was all of this, like, acceptance kind of that I had been missing. I just kind of got flooded with. And I became so much more comfortable with myself. And I was I could feel it, you know, I was aware of it like, wow, this is different. Yes. Did

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:41

that help you in moving forward in your other relationships?

Giji Dennard  33:46

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. helped me be not finding my sense of worth and value from this other man’s perspective. Absolutely.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:57

So how do you help people heal from their relationships with their fathers? Because clearly, you have identified the five types of Farber and the impact that these have on people generally, how did they then heal once they know? Okay, this was the type of father that I had.

Giji Dennard  34:19

So that takes us back to the sort of the process the three R’s. So the three R’s are recognised, released and receive. So again, healing and wholeness is a journey. And I believe that it begins with first recognising not only what type of father you’ve had or what type of father you’ve been, because I get a chance to help fathers as well. Yes. So there’s that part, but there’s also the part of the impact, really recognising and looking at how did this show up in me, because a lot of times people don’t connect the dots. Right? Right. Even if they’ll say, you know, like, my father was a jerk, what does that mean? How, you know, what about him bothered you kind of thing, then, if I have actually a list that I make people go through, to check off, are these things that you see in yourself. And they range from being angry to being promiscuous to, you know, being timid, you know, just a range of things, a ways that that people can be affected by their parent and have them identified, and then I help them connect the dots. I help them see the linkages. Yes, between your timidity and the way you have this interaction with your father. I lived with, I had some roommates once and one was a young woman who was pretty timid, you know, like she didn’t seem to want to come out and kind of interact with people and I was trying to get a bead on what that was what that was about. And one day I was in the kitchen, and I yelled to the other side of the house, dinner’s ready. You know, just a pole all call? Yes, but I saw her cower. Like she literally like physically coward. And I was thinking, What on earth was that about? So later on, and appropriate time by ourselves? I asked her, you know, like, when I yelled that dinner’s ready, Did that bother you? And then she proceeded to tell me that her father yelled all the time, that it usually was accompanied by physical violence in the house. And she had kind of a knee jerk reaction to people yelling, even if it wasn’t negative, just loud. Yes. So that was something that I helped her with over the next year or so as we live together. So like, release, which gets the next part, so I’m really releasing and sort of renouncing the effects, releasing people from kind of holding them hostage with unforgiveness and bitterness and anger. Because it really traps you doesn’t trap them. It traps you. So I have an exercise where we actually do it out loud, you know, to like help people get through the process. Because again, it’s not just an event, even forgiveness can be a process, it may not all happen today. But you can start today, you can start making a conscientious decision. And we talk about that talk about the fact that forgiveness is really a decision, it’s not a feeling your feelings will catch up. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:50

because forgiveness is a big one. And I think it’s one of those things that there’s a lot of misconceptions around. Because a lot of people feel that, to forgive someone, you need to actually go up to that person and verbally say, I forgive you. But that’s not the case at all. So now how do we how can we start that journey of forgiveness,

Giji Dennard  38:15

because forgiveness is really an inner work. It’s not the external part of it, that matters. It’s the internal part of it that matters. It’s the conscious effort and decision that we make to say, and this is why I use the word release. I am going to release this person back regardless of what they did to me what they said to me how they treated me, I am going to release carrying this anger and bitterness and resentment toward them. I’m going to release that from me. I’m going to release that for me, I’m going to release them to go do whatever they’re gonna do. We may or may not ever be friends, but I release them but I release. It’s really more about the releasing oneself from carrying that burden. Forgiveness is a weight. It is and it’s debilitating. It can be debilitating. It can be you know, medical research has shown that unforgiveness actually shows up physically. You know, people end up with disease in their bodies from carrying around unforgiveness.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:22

Yes, that manifestation of that emotion of

Giji Dennard  39:26

that emotion.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:27

Is it possible for all of us if we do the work to forgive people? And just because you forgive doesn’t mean that you forget?

Giji Dennard  39:39

Not at all.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:40

Because like, I always joke around and I say, I’m Sicilian. We forgive but we don’t forget that we have that we hold a grudge kind of thing. That’s kind of DNA which is not really mine, right although at has been recently with a particular family scenario.

Giji Dennard  40:03

Let’s see, I think holding a grudge means that there’s some forgiveness work that still needs to happen. So I think this is what forgiveness but not forgetting looks like, I’ll give you a scenario with my mom. Okay, so we had a very rough relationship pretty much all the time, particularly as a teenager, and I always felt not abandoned, but But definitely, not really valued necessarily, particularly not as much as my brother, or I felt not accepted, you know, kind of thing. So there was a lot of wounding there, right. And I kind of felt like I was unwanted, right? Well, fast forward years later, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this movie, I told my baby, no, but I watched this movie. And it’s about a girl who doesn’t know that she survived an abortion, and attempted abortion. But she has all these feelings that she doesn’t know where they come from. Because she doesn’t know that this has happened. And she ends up having all these feelings of being unwanted. That she can’t really trace anybody. She’s in this loving family. She’s been adopted by these parents that love her and, you know, give her everything. But she has these things that she feels, she doesn’t know why. Well, the first time I saw that movie, it was really interesting, because I could so identify with the feelings. But now it didn’t hurt. Because I’ve already done the work. So forgive my mom for those things that I had, you know, that had gone on. And that’s a lot of times for me the way I can tell when the forgiveness work is done. The hurts not there. The memories there. I still have all the memories. Yes, the memories haven’t gone anywhere. But I don’t carry the hurt anymore. And I don’t. It’s like, okay, it happened. You know, I would not want that to happen anymore. But, but I don’t carry, I’ve been able to really release the anger, release the resentment. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t walk in wisdom. You know, if you’ve been dealing with somebody who’s been abusive, that does not mean you should get back in their orbit? Yes. Because if they have not dealt with them, yes, you forgive them at a distance from afar and keep the distance, yes. Because you don’t want to re and unfortunately, that’s a lot of what happens. People recycle themselves through the same situations. Because they don’t know how to get out, they find themselves, you know, attracting the same kind of person all over again, I was actually speaking at a women’s conference Wednesday, last week, and one of the woman was talking about how she’s a fixer. She didn’t know that about herself. But so she would find men who needed to be fixed. And then she would fix them. And then she would divorce them because then she had nothing left to do because there wasn’t a thing to fix anymore, kind of thing. And it took her several marriages, to discover that Yes. And to discover underneath that was the trauma from her own life, which was causing her to act out in that manner to become the fixer. But you know, it took you know, she was in her early 40s, I think when the discovery happened, so we can be carrying around and operating on repeat and just replaying that same song. without having any idea why. Yes, because it’s often not even a pleasant song.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:48

It’s very interesting, isn’t it? Because this whole thing of forgiveness, that’s something that I’ve had to deal with, on two different levels. And I’ll talk about one of them. And that is a big, it’s a massive family issue that’s going on at present. It’s not my own family at Oulu, by my husband’s family. And how do you deal with then with people who are family members? They don’t acknowledge their wrongdoing, in fact, you know that their behaviour will continue to happen. Because they think that they arrived. One party is a narcissist and the other person has narcissistic traits. And there’s never going to be a winner in that scenario. And and you go through a honeymoon period, and then the behaviours happen again, the same old things start to act out again. So you Find yourself, you’re setting yourself up for hurt. And for the backlash over and over again, after a bit after a beautiful honeymoon period, how do you step away from that? And how do you forgive that? Because I’ve not been speaking to these people now for two years. Okay.

Giji Dennard  45:20

So I think you’ve done part of the first part. And that’s to step away. And when I mentioned the thing about forgiveness, but operating in wisdom, wisdom may have said step away. And because you are aware of the pattern, you know, that there there may be this honeymoon, it’s important that we don’t get lulled into it. Yes. Because I think that’s part of what happens, our hope. Our hope, makes us for a moment think that something is changing. Yes. And we get hopeful. And we start wanting to embrace this. And then when the other stuff kicks back in. We’re like doubly hurt. And so I think part of it is that we have to, we have to guard ourselves emotionally. And if it requires us to talk to ourselves and say, Okay, I see this is happening right now. And I would love to believe that this is probably there’s going to be permanent, but I, I don’t really believe that at the moment. So I’m going to be as courteous and kind as I can. But I am not going to reopen the wound in my heart. To have them harpoon it again. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:49

yes. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells, or, you know those minds? Yeah. More like the mind. Yes, more like the mind. Because you don’t know when the next you’re going to step on a mine. And the whole thing’s going to explode again. And

Giji Dennard  47:09

then you have to decide even if their family what price do you want to pay? That can be hard, but also can be necessary. It can be necessary to decide, okay, I’ll tell you what, I have made decisions that were not popular, sometimes with my family, like deciding to go home to visit, but actually staying at a hotel. They didn’t like it. But this is my sanity we’re dealing with this is my piece we’re trying to preserve. Yes, I can love you, you need to accept the fact that I can love you without having to stay in your house.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:51

Yes, I don’t like staying in people’s houses either. I like having my own space, right? I love my face.

Giji Dennard  48:01

So sometimes we have to make those kinds of decisions, and continue that help people walk through it, you know, I love you. But I need to do this, you know, I need to do this, it’s really going to be better for our interactions are going to be better, this is going to be more long lasting. If I can have some of my own space to pull out do what I need to Yes, you know, kind of thing and, and, and I what I found is that they may be hurt at the beginning, but they will get over it and life will endure and you guys can go on as family. You know, even that that first that Christmas I spent with my dad, you would have thought that I was I don’t know putting somebody in prison or something. Everybody was so upset with me. Yes. I was 25 years old. Okay. Yes. But it was like, Okay, people. I have spent 24 of my 25 years with all of you. And I’m like this Christmas. I am spending Christmas with my father. I will see you by New Year’s get over it. It’s gonna be all right. Yeah. No

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  49:13

one’s dying. No one’s died. And so Okay, let’s put this in perspective. That’s, that’s what I love saying. Now part of your healing is the three R’s. As you said, the recognise and receive. Yes, I will share another personal story here that when I was born, I was born with a job and that was to take care of my mother. Okay. My mom pre conceiving me was heading for a nervous breakdown. She was depressed and medicated and the doctors suggested that she had the baby to take her mind off herself. Okay, so my job was to take care of my mother. Okay. And every relationship I’ve been in, I had been the caretaker. And I take care of everybody. I naturally go into that role. Whether I want to or not whether I know I’m doing it or not, but now I do. But it took her passing. For me to realise once she passed away at the age of 99, wow asked you and and I won’t share this, well, maybe I might share this story. Even as she lay in her coffin, before the viewing, and I saw my mom, she was not made up the way that she would present herself to the world. Okay, and I screamed to the Undertaker’s to go and get me eyebrow pencil, lipstick, and his friend ahead, hairbrush. I could fix my mom before anyone saw her. So even even in the coffin, death after her passing, I was still taking care of her. Yeah, so sorry, five freaked anybody out with that story? I don’t know what came over me. But I think it was just once again, I am her caretaker right. Then some months later, I realised I don’t have to be that person anymore. Now. Yes, I am in a place where I want to receive, I’m ready to start receiving, because I’ve not allowed myself to receive in life. So how do we make that shift to becoming someone who allows themselves to receive because I am struggling with that? Because I don’t know any better? Right?

Giji Dennard  51:57

Okay. So, first of all, you have to recognise that that’s a long time. My whole life. It was kind of like, I mean, if it wasn’t in your DNA, it’s probably changed your DNA, you know what I’m saying? Like, it’s been so ever present that for you, you may have to actually do something like, really extreme to let go. Okay, so you one thing I would I would recommend, I don’t know if you do these or not, but I would recommend some sort of affirmation regimen, where you say to yourself, you know, that I am loved, and I am cared for. And, you know, I am no longer the caretaker, you know, those kinds of things where, because this, you’ve got to do some serious mind renewal. 100%. That’s what this process is about. The process is about renewing our minds. The great part is you’ve done the first part, you’ve recognised it, I think there’s probably some more releasing, like, I think, intellectually, you’ve released it, you say, Ah, I don’t have to do this anymore. There’s some more hard work that you have to do, which I think affirmations can help with, to release that role and monitor yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be on autopilot. It takes some work. Don’t allow yourself to be at when you catch yourself about to do this. Okay, so I have a similar problem. Sometimes we have to hit the wall before we bounce back and say, Okay, I’m not going to do that again. I have always volunteered at events always. It just seems like that’s what I’ve been doing all my life. That’s what I do. Okay, I’ve aged, you know, and I’m not 25 or even 35 anymore. So the wear and tear of like a week long event. You know, so i Silly me. I set up my own charity for this big event in February of last this year. And I go and I’ve got to be up and at the place at seven o’clock in the morning. Oh, and we’re up all night. And you know, I’m getting back to the room at nine and 11 at night and we got to be back up at seven and I said What on earth is wrong with you? And it was just that it was autopilot. I allowed myself to operate on autopilot. And I have stopped after that. I was like okay, you this is something you need to deal with. I now take much more stock before I volunteer to help. I spend much more time with myself saying is this something you really need to do? Is this going to Add value, is this going to drain the life out of you? Are you really in a place to do this right now? I have those kinds of conversations because autopilot will get me in trouble. You’ve been on autopilot for way too long. From

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:14

birth. Yes, I was I as a child, I was made responsible for everything. And everything, every aspect of my mother’s happiness evolved around me, I had a massive responsibility, I wasn’t allowed to go and play with other children, I was kept in the house. So

Giji Dennard  55:33

you can get some serious work to do. internally. I mean, that’s just, that’s, that’s, that’s a whole new paradigm for you, as a way to live as a freed individual that you don’t have any context for. The other thing that I might recommend is if if there are people in your sphere, they don’t necessarily have to be close, but if they are, that could help who you feel are living a more freed, not burdened life. I would spend some time with them, pick their brain. Talk to them about how what is your day look like? How do you do this?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  56:18

Okay, listeners, if that is you send me an email. We need to talk.

Giji Dennard  56:26

Absolutely, absolutely. But it’s it takes some time, it’s gonna take you some time to adjust to that. And particularly if you’ve got other things going on, like in life that require you to use some of that role, then it’s all the harder to like, separate it. Yes, I’m ready. But yeah, but that’s helps the fact that you’re ready, I’m ready. I’m tired. Yeah, it’s been a long time. And that’s a lot of what it takes, it takes people to kind of be ready. Typically, people that I help, are ready for some kind of change, they may not even understand, they may not understand at all, but they’re ready to not be burdened, they’re ready to not be angry. You know, they’re ready to not have these this stream of failed relationships or failed working situations or, you know, it’s they’re just there. They’re just kind of sick and tired of being sick and tired. Yes, yes. And, and a lot of times, that’s, unfortunately, often we have to get to that point, before we’re actually ready to take action. Humans are really weird like that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  57:41

We have to hit a wall or become really unwell, or have a traumatic event or a catastrophic event. Exactly.

Giji Dennard  57:49

Before we read the signs. And to say we need to do something like quickly.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  57:55

Yes. I mean, on the upside of all of this, yes. I have forgiven my mother. Excellent. Okay. She’s totally forgiven. Because I feel she didn’t know any better. She was doing the best she could. Yep, she made my life a living hell as a kid. I probably had some relationships along the way that we’re very unhealthy. And, you know, part of that though, if there are positives in my personality, that’s right. That have been shaped

Giji Dennard  58:29

by that. That’s right. You probably got a resilience.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:34

I’m resilient. I’m tenacious. Yes. Intuitive. I’m kind. You know, I’ve got some amazing quote, I’m hard working. I can take charge of any situation. Yes. So obviously, that relationship with my mom has absolutely defined who I am. My father was more than nurturer and the loving and the kinda had a beautiful relationship with him, and I lost him in my 20s. And that was a massive loss for me. I’m sure that was a massive, massive loss for me. Oh, yeah. So I believe that our identity is our unique footprint on this earth. So other than our relationship with our parents, and and you know, I know we’ve been focusing a lot around father but I feel like my mother was kind of like the father for sure. My relationship, that stronger kind of person. What are the other things that makes us who we are?

Giji Dennard  59:34

That’s a that’s a long laundry list. What I tend to help people explore are things like giftings a lot of people kind of don’t even know what they’re good at. A lot of times they haven’t been given the space and opportunity even discover that. I liked helping people discover who they are and what’s in them. I help people look at kind of how they interact with the world around them through temperament through different, you know, lots of different kinds of assessments. I, I help people with the whole love language space, that was something I so wish that I had understood better about me and my mom, that would have saved a whole lot of headache. If I had just understood, we have completely different love languages. So

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:00:28

I would love to learn more about that. Yeah,

Giji Dennard  1:00:31

that’s, that that ends up, because that’s another part of who you are, how you love and how you like to receive love is really important in any relationship, not just romantic relationships in any relationship. And, and, you know, the people that I really close to, that’s part of why I’m close to them, is because they understand what works for me, you know, and what does it you know, I actually lost probably one of my absolute best friends just a couple of months ago. And one of the things that always what happened with us, she was a bit more social than I was when I would come to visit, you know, and people will want to see me, I want to see people, it’s not that I didn’t want to see people, but I have kind of a smaller window of dealing with groups. I’m a one on one or, you know, kind of thing and so but she would always ask, he would say like, okay, so and so and so and so knows that you’re here, and they know that we’re going out to dinner. Is it okay, if they come tonight? And she would give me that space to either say, Yeah, I could do them tonight. Or? Yeah, no, no, I need it to be a you and me night. We can do them tomorrow or some other day. You know, that kind of thing where people understand how love looks like, on you and for you. And from you. Right? I did a work thing where we did the Enneagram test. Yeah, I’m a two. And and the woman who was leading it, we she, when she asked us to share an experience. And I talked about this birthday card that my friends gave me like close friends gave me that was like, one of those out of the box of 12 generic kind of cards. Oh, and that really hurt my feelings.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:02:25

I don’t like generic cards. Me either. No, people do not send me a generic card. No, I like personalised card personalised stuff, friend, mother, wife, and beautiful words, I’m a tired person.

Giji Dennard  1:02:44

I like cards. But please don’t do that. And so I debated as to whether I was going to say something. So the person who actually gave me the card on behalf of a group of friends, I decided, okay, he knows me well enough, I can. We can go there. It’s not going to damage our friendship. And I said, I said, I have to tell you this because I just please don’t do this again. But because I want to avoid this happening again. But so I told him about the car. And he kind of laughed, and he said, You know, I struggled with that he goes, I thought that this might not go for Well, I was struggling between either having nothing or doing that, because that’s all I had time to do. I said I would have preferred a handwritten post it note.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:26

Ah, yeah, I get that I would have to. It sounds like all this work. It all starts with self. Yes. If you want to repair relationships with others, you have to repair the relationship with yourself first and build an understanding of who you are, what your core values are, what your deal breakers are,

Giji Dennard  1:03:51


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:52

What your love languages because I have come across this before. So in wrapping this up, yes. If someone is struggling through something, and whether it’s a relationship with someone else, or they’re just not in a good place in life, what would you say to that person?

Giji Dennard  1:04:14

I would say to the person that it’s very important for them to understand the underlying triggers. You know, it’s very important for them to seek out help to discover where the trauma lay. And because that’s really the only way you can address it. You have to look at it. You have to say it and sometimes that’s painful, but it’s absolutely necessary part of the process. And that’s step

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:04:42

one. Yes. It’s to identify. Yes,

Giji Dennard  1:04:47

yeah. And the source not just the how it looks on me now. But where did this come from? You know, why am I like this? Why does this kind of behaviour irritate ate me so much. You know, you ever felt that you know, where it’s just like, Oh, yes, that something about that absolutely just makes me crazy. You know why about that? Yes. And it’s important sometimes for us to know where it came from. Sometimes it’s not even something that needs to change, but we might need to have perspective on why and so it won’t rule us, you know, and so we’re ruling our own emotions, you know, instead of having our emotions rule us and just kind of, yeah, take us this way and that, but when we understand you know, where it came from, it can be as simple as you know, one of the things that my mother was very strict about was lying. That was like, worse than anything. Like you can do bad stuff, but don’t lie

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:05:51

to me. That’s how I’ve raised my children. So I have a

Giji Dennard  1:05:56

very strong code about lying. That’s just one of those things. That’s one of those non negotiables. Exactly. I forgive and I give people grades and people can mess up. But don’t lie to me about it. You know, and so what I know that’s where it came from. It’s not just some random thing that I’m feeling. It’s not something I just picked up off of social media. I understand it, I’m fine with it. There’s nothing to fix. But it helps me process. You know, and so if I’m in relationship with people, that’s something I often share in building friendships. You know, honesty is really important to me. Yes. If that’s something you struggle with, this may not work.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:06:36

Yes. We may not be friends. Yes. There may not work, we can be acquaintances. Yeah, I am not friends owning you. Yeah, yes. No, this is amazing. There’s so much more that we can continue talking about. But we’re going to wrap it up here. Chi Chi, is there anything else you would like to add to this interview,

Giji Dennard  1:06:59

I would just like to say if people do are aware that they have any kind of data issues that are residual of any kind, please feel free to reach out. My website is well fed resources. There’s a tab that healing, you can register for workshop there, you can get the book. Even though the workshop is like a jumpstart, I do have a 12 week companion diary to help you continue working things through even after the workshop. Amazing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:07:26

And we will share the links. Thank you to all your work in the show notes. So people want to learn more about your brilliant programmes, the work that you’re doing. They want to have a conversation with you. They can go to the links and find you. Jg

Giji Dennard  1:07:43

thank you so much. This has been so delightful. It has been and

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:07:48

look, I really truly appreciate your openness and willingness to share your story. And you have a huge heart. And thank you for sharing that with our listeners. And I do wish you all the very best with everything that you’re doing. Keep up your brilliant work. Thank

Giji Dennard  1:08:07

you so much. And thank you for your time. Thank you and I’m gonna check back in with you on that family situation.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:13

Oh, please do.

Giji Dennard  1:08:14

Yeah, that’s another thing. You need an accountability partner probably.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:19

Okay, let’s do that.

Giji Dennard  1:08:21


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:22

thank you, JJ. Take care.

Giji Dennard  1:08:24

Bye. Thank you so much, my wife.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:27

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth, and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of a voice and beyond.