Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 00:05
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 health care practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialized 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.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 01:16
Elisa Stancil Levine is a world class decorative artist and author of the book This Or Something Better. Elisa describes herself as a writer, a maker and nature lover, as well as a little woowoo. In this week’s episode, Elisa shares her most inspiring life story describing how she overcame adversity and the terrible trauma she faced from a young age to how she became a very highly successful businesswoman and founder of a stencil studios and award winning nationwide company Elisa tells us that she was silenced as a very young child and lived under a shadow of shame when she suffered the trauma of physical abuse from her grandmother and unthinkable sexual abuse at the hands of her step grandfather. However, it was during this time she found peace in nature, and she began a beautiful relationship and trust for her outdoor surroundings. As a teenager, Elisa faced further trauma when her son was still born, and she felt she did not have a voice. But once again, she found strength in nature and discovered that as a woman she was resilient and could achieve success and greatness. Elisa believes that we all can harness nature as our greatest guide to living our most joyful and fulfilling life just as she did especially in the moments when she was silenced. In today’s show, Elisa shares many wonderful stories and the lessons that she has learned through the journey of her most incredible life. This is an awe inspiring episode with Elisa Stancil Levine. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 03:34
Welcome to the show, Elisa Stancil Levine. You are a world class decorative artist and the founder of Stancil Studios, where your work has been featured in leading design magazines, e verywhere. Your company is an award winning company. You are the author of the book This Or Something Better, but you describe yourself not only as a writer, but also as a maker and a nature lover and you shared a little secret with me yesterday that you also describe yourself as a little woowoo and we’re going to go into that as we get into the interview, but how are you Elisa?
Elisa Stancil Levine 04:19
I’m happy I had a beautiful day well a lovely hike and I’m just really glad to be speaking with you today.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 04:27
Oh, thank you. So tell us where you’re located at present.
Elisa Stancil Levine 04:31
Okay, I’m in Northern California. A lot of people might understand it as the wine country. It is in fact about an hour and a half north eight north west of San Francisco. And this is where there were the tremendous fires and firestorm which was sort of similar to the difficult fires you had in Australia, but that was five years ago when we’ve had a continuing threats and fires since then, just as you are facing but it’s a beautiful, idyllic place, you know, I couldn’t have wished for anything more until we realized we should be wishing for no fires, right and good climate, and not climate change, but it is where I am. We have property here and horses, and we join thousands of acres of wildlife corridor, and we have 32 miles of hiking trails, we can run and hike on, you know, right out our back door. So, super lucky.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 05:31
You have an incredible story and before we launch into your story, which is so inspiring because you have faced a lot of adversity, and you become this beautiful, powerful woman, who’s who has achieved so much. You shared a story with me yesterday about a phone call that you had seen as we have a singing voice community here. So I’m going a little off track, but I just remembered the story that you shared about that phone call you received from a theatrical group.
Elisa Stancil Levine 06:06
Yes. And you know, it’s really funny because this property that adjoins us, is a state park still owned by the State of California, but they could no longer really be running it, they just couldn’t seem to afford it. The state had just accepted so much land and made it all into parks. And then they couldn’t, they couldn’t cope. So this park was going to be closed thousands of acres adjoining us. And we were working very hard to save it. And I got this phone call from someone unknown, who said, you know, we’ve been looking all over the United States for the perfect place to do an outdoor theater. And we think we found it, and we think it’s at the park next to you. And we were told if we want to try to make this happen, and have our theater company there, we should call you. And I said well, okay, let’s get this go on. Let’s get this party going. So they came to lunch. And it was a fascinating thing. You may even think this is interesting, because they said that they wanted to do Broadway shows, they also wanted to mount new and creative work that hadn’t been done before and that was their division. And we were my husband and I had spent a lot of time in Manhattan. And we have, like we said, walked out on some of the best shows on Broadway. But sometimes we leave right into the opera too much singing okay, I left, I mean this is so crazy. He was like, I’m tired of hearing you guys and doll. No, gotta go. Just you know. So we love this. And we love Miss Saigon and Lim is certain things but we have left many things that we were saying, well, we’re not, we may not be your audience, but we will make it possible for you to have this happen. The very first, just a few months later, they mounted us show that for 900 patrons, right. And from that moment till now, they have raised over $600,000 for the park, and they have a multimillion dollar budget, huge community support and it’s just an amazing thing watching how this group had to, you know, manage through COVID really brought a lot of that home to me too. As I said earlier in that whole thing is so ephemeral. What you offer with your voice, you know, in live performance is this ephemeral moment, right? And it brings so much to the audience. And of course, there’s a cycle between the performer and the audience and when you can’t perform in person. That must be very difficult.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 08:37
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So one question comes to mind here. Have you had to walk out on any of their shows?
Elisa Stancil Levine 08:46
I did, actually the last time I left to intermission, as my husband said they were working very hard. There was a number of the performers were out with COVID Okay, and it was the first show of the season. And things happen. So it wasn’t as though they weren’t putting their heart into it. But I just, I got I left it halftime intermission. And, you know, it’s like my book, okay. I’m gonna say no, nothing is for everyone. Okay, I’m just saying. Nature is for everyone. And people will say no, I don’t like nature. You know, people are afraid of nature. There aren’t people. So it’s the same with whatever your memoir some people say, Well, I don’t like memoir, well, then don’t don’t worry about it. Don’t read it. If you yeah, whatever. So we went actually to a show on Fourth of July. There was mentioned yesterday, they had this performance, it was over 2000 people, they’re back for the Symphony, and it was incredible in class, and have been any better. It was the best show I’ve ever seen them do. And they’ve been doing this for 10 years at the park now. And these people are all independent performance coming from all over from Manhattan and from LA or from wherever they’re on to Word for these little students of maybe three to five weeks, and they come and then they’re gone, like, you know. So it’s a big deal that they’re managing this. And like I said, we have two people actually living with us right now that are part of this season performance. And that’s how our community tries to pitch in people live with other homeowners and –
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 10:22
Yes, so it sounds like it’s a big collaborative effort on all parts. What a brilliant thing you’ve done not only for the park, but also for the community that Broadway and that musical theatre community to have managed to create work for them and a place to put on performances. That’s amazing.
Elisa Stancil Levine 10:45
Yes, all thanks to this touring group, Transcendence Theatre Company who had studied how different theatre groups were succeeding, and they went all throughout the United States to practice and understand them. I think they they stayed in, you know, kind of immersed in like maybe six to eight of the successful companies, because as you as you know, many people try, but it doesn’t always work, right? So they were very young at that time. And it’s working, they studied, they worked hard. And so I owe a kudos go to them. I mean, they they created, they just asked for some help getting to be permitted. That was my part.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 11:23
Yes, and you let them sleep in your house. And you given them lunch, walked out at intermission of one show. So they’re already doing better than Broadway.
Elisa Stancil Levine 11:38
And I never, I never ever told them that, so you know.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 11:41
Oh no, but that’s okay. You paid for the ticket, which means that you did support them. So that that’s amazing. That’s all that matters. Now, Elisa, we’re going to start talking about you and your story. Now, basically, my underlying theme for the for the podcast is empowering others to find their voice in life and seeking people who have been silenced in their lives, and for them to share their stories and how they have achieved greatness. And I believe you have throughout all the adversity that you’ve faced. So let’s start back to you. And your first experience as a child when you were silenced, or you felt you didn’t have a voice.
Elisa Stancil Levine 12:29
Yes, I like that. But I wanted to start even a little bit earlier than that. The first time I realized I wanted to have a voice, and I was not even a year and a half old, I was maybe I don’t know, it was too small to have, to talk, okay, maybe a year and two months, let’s just say, and I’m toggling about outside alone, for some reason. And I looked down and I see my shoes moving. And they’re moving all the pine needles outside, in, in the woods by my house. And I realized all of a sudden, these are my shoes. I’m moving these shoes. This is me, I’m on the planet. Basically, if one could think in these words, which I don’t know. And I just remember reaching, I see my shoes, and I reach out, but I just want to greet the world. I’m so happy. And I realized and I started to say hello, but I realized I can’t talk. I’m I have no words. But all of a sudden, the trees are moving like this. And these birds fly. And I feel completely welcomed. I feel completely acknowledged. And I feel like I belong. And I’m so happy to be on the planet. It’s perfect. So this is my guess what nature is so key to me, because it’s my first imprint. Right? This was it. Now then when we do want to talk about needing a voice, we can talk about that and wishing to have a voice that would be heard. From the time I was a year and a half old until I was five my grandmother would if I was staying there with our other cousins. Sometimes we’d notice she would get in a mood. And when she got in a mood, it was very scary because I knew she would come for me. And I didn’t know why. But she would get more and more, you know, angry. And then she would come and get me and grabbed me by the arm swing me up into this flush tub and start scrubbing me maybe take my clothes off and scrub me with a scrub brush, you know and call me a murderer. You’re a murderer, she would say under her voice under breath by sometimes just straight out loud. And everybody else scattered as soon as I was grabbed, of course. And then finally she would like put me down and I would run upstairs with my clothes and get redress and dress myself in the attic and come back down. And she was confounding and scary and horrible, but you know there was no one to tell. Okay, you don’t tell on your dad’s mother. Who do you tell who’s above your dad’s mother and who you know stronger than this woman who’s doing this thing to me? I don’t know, maybe God, right. But I didn’t know anything. So until I was five, this could be on order this could happen, you know, but yeah, everything else, probably I’d say, I would have to say three to five times a summer may be more and, it was random and yet, I tell you, I would dream and I would wake up in my at my parents house, which is very calm and orderly and distant. And I would wake up without open my eyes very slowly, and try to see if I was magically at my grandmother’s because I would rather be at my grandmother’s than at home at home was so empty. So no connection. So my grandmother’s, there was raspberries, there were sunflowers, there was beauty. There was joy. There was, you know, my cousins, I could play it was great. And she was a very strong and totally reliable person in every other way. Except this one thing. So I knew where I stood with her. Everybody knew, you know, if you’ve heard this, on the window, everybody would freeze because you know, you have to come in now because she was gonna tell you how to do English. She’s very strong woman more so my dad, my house my grandmother was depressed and not connected. So we wanted to we all wanted to go to grandma’s. We love it. She made these amazing pancakes. She did all these great things. But this being called a murderer just seemed like made no sense, right? And finally, when I was five, I realized I have to say something. And so we’re driving, and she and I are alone. And I think this is my chance. So I say Grandma, why do you call me a murderer? I’m just a little child. And she stopped for a second said, doesn’t matter. You’re Catholic, and the Catholics killed 1000s of people during the Crusades. So it’s just like you did it yourself.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 16:53
Oh, what? Oh my gosh, well your other cousins not Catholic?
Elisa Stancil Levine 17:00
But my two brothers were, okay. So I don’t know. She just picked me. And that was the story. You know, I was a girl and for some reason, I was it. So I flew in in that time in 1955 54,55, there was a pretty new cartoon called Crusader Rabbit. It was a cartoon where it was called that no, he went around on the horse and looked like he was a crusader. You know, kind of weird. But I thought, okay, I don’t see how this has anything to do with me. I don’t, I didn’t do anything and it’s not about that cartoon, I just have to give up on trying to figure this out and this was when I decided that I couldn’t tell my father. And, you know, she never scrubbed me again and call me that. So it did work.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 17:48
Once you confronted her, once you spoke up? And you ask the question, she stopped. Well, and okay, so now there’s another side to this story as well, whether you want to share it or not, and that is the trauma you experienced with your grandfather.
Elisa Stancil Levine 18:07
I will share a share for this reason. I think a lot of people have had experiences like this. And I’ve, I find it sometimes good for others to hear about it. So I’m okay with saying that. Yes, my step grandfather married my grandmother when she was about 58 or 60, and he was actually a pedophile. And it wasn’t until I was 35. And talking to my girl cousins that we found out together, that he had done the same thing to each of us. From the time we were very tiny, until we were about two and a half and it’s described in the book in kind of a lyrical way. It’s really, you know, it wasn’t the same. I don’t want to discuss exactly what he did.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 18:51
No, no, no and I, we don’t need to know that. I mean, it’s enough that what you’ve shared with us to get the idea of what happened to you.
Elisa Stancil Levine 19:02
Yeah. So what would happen is you’d feel really special, because sit on his lap, he’d give you both of his pancake, and then when my grandmother went to church, which she’s seven, then he might take us into this little Woodborough room where all the wood blocks were in, you know, or do this things alone. And so I felt like, you know, I was special, I was on his lap, I got the bites of the pancakes and he you know, he had a nickname for me, and it was I was comforting it and the whole experience everything he did made me feel comforted and known. I felt like this sense of belonging, right. Just like in nature. I’m safe and I’m free. I’m known, cause I’m accepted.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 19:42
and she probably felt heard.
Elisa Stancil Levine 19:45
Me, I don’t know if I would say heard because I still wasn’t talking so, I don’t know. I mean, I felt known, which is maybe what you mean by.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 19:53
Yes, yes. Okay. Yeah.
Elisa Stancil Levine 19:55
So, but then all of a sudden, when I started to talk, he ditched me for my younger cousin, and he was not available anymore, he would just be gone with her, I’d see them walking away, as I say, in the book to where we used to go and it was like, I’m abandoned now. You know, and then meanwhile, there’s the grandmother thing. So if that awful got sealed off, I mean, all of us quietly didn’t say anything much about it until many, many, many years later, which is also pretty common, I think.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 20:30
Yes, yes, very common.
Elisa Stancil Levine 20:32
And we shared it with each other and I put it I mean, it is something very new makes a lot of vulnerability occur when you’re trying to share this, but certainly, when I’m sharing something now at 72, that happened to me when I was two to five, you know, I have distanced from it and I had the time to really process. So I’m not encouraging everybody to run out and wrote a book if they feel that they’ve been harmed. I think there’s a lot to do with your own path and your spiritual maturity that will help almost anyone with these things that happen that we have no control.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 21:11
Yeah. So what was the impact on you, like physically, mentally and emotionally of that time in your life? Did you carry this on to the next phase of your life into your childhood into your teens?
Elisa Stancil Levine 21:28
Definitely, I’d say there have a couple of images that reminds me, I felt like I was under the shadow, there was a shadow of shame on me, right? Maybe I did do something, maybe I am a murderer. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, why I’m abandoned, why I’m not connected to my real actual parents, you know, the shadow and so all I can really do to make myself feel free of that. If you stand straight under a noon sun, you know, there’s no shadow. So I will always want to try to be in the right place at the right time, for the right reason, doing the right thing, you know, it’d be safe, and I would shine. This is just, you know, a compensation. It’s an unintended result of this and the secondary aspect is that I begin to make like, what I came to realize this like a little bit of armor, every time something confirmed that maybe that wasn’t quite right, didn’t do the right thing didn’t succeed in the right way. I would just, it just drew me out further and further from people. But thankfully, I had nature. Okay, this is what I had to go deeper and deeper into. We live by a river and I said, but but the river I had, my companionship was a river, I was able to have a few good girlfriends, which was wonderful when I was very little, and as I grew up, but my nuclear family never was never really melted. So I decided to go away to college, to high school at a boarding school where I thought because I was in the advanced groups and all that kind of thing that I was just too brilliant for my little tiny town, I should go to a better place and I found this fantastic place at boarding school, and that there was this famous nun named Sister Mary Karina, and she was protesting more. She was really, really amazing. And she was doing this great art that was called Collage and Stick printing, and it was very simple. And the first thing I saw of hers was this Tissue paper collage of a bird in flight on a white ground and it said, I greet the light within you and like their sheet. This is my person, right? This is art. This is.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 23:40
Wow and this is a nun.
Elisa Stancil Levine 23:42
Yes, she became famous as a nun and she was put forced out, but in any case, I found the school. I thought, well, it’s Catholic, but that’s okay. It’s she’s a nun and she’s doing this and they have an art program. Let’s go see it. My parents agreed that I could go. So I went and I loved everything about it and they accepted me after the testing and all that kind of thing and we got the uniforms and everything to summer pass, and it was time to start. When I got there. The whole program had been changed over the summer, and they had canceled the art program. Everything was done. And it was like as I sing in the book, they have this new sister, Mother Superior and her name was Sister Marie Damien, and she was tiny and beautiful. And she insisted that we would be silent and silent. Okay, again, with white gloves on retreat, not speak. We just have these days. It’s gonna be –
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 24:42
How old were you at this stage?
Elisa Stancil Levine 24:44
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 24:45
Wow, that’s a lot to ask from a 13 year old.
Elisa Stancil Levine 24:48
and I’m gonna hear. I have made a big deal that I was going to a special school because you know, it was better for me and there was no more in the advanced classes I got. I could have skipped some from some classes in high school. and just gone on, you know, and gotten graduated early, but I decided to go this other place for art and literature, right. And this is where I would go, because that’s what I wanted to write and paint. But, you know, they just cut all that out. And I only lasted one semester. And in that semester, I gained 30 pounds. I was just morose. And it was about, I don’t know, six hours by bus away from my home, and my parents got to file for a divorce there, that river had a dam proposed. I mean, everything happened in six months, it could have possibly having to change everything. And that’s, that was a huge pivotal point in my life. I thinking that it was out of the frying pan into the fire, and then back home into not even an ember first nothing.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 25:47
Wow. Well, so what did you do next?
Elisa Stancil Levine 25:51
Well, I looked around my school, I tried to start a writing program because I was a big runner at that time and a hiker and they this was, you know, way back in 1960s. For there was no title line in America. That means girls get to do sports, too. You know, the rules were ridiculous. So you could hold the basketball for five seconds. You know, otherwise? You? Yeah, because it’d be too much for you. If you you know, control the ball for very long, you know? It’s just just insane. I mean, you can –
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 26:22
Really is this is this. Oh my gosh, I’ve never heard of that.
Elisa Stancil Levine 26:27
Oh, it’s horrible. Just see, you know, so I tried to start the first time it was okay, I’ve gained weight. People think fine. I went away. I had a baby. Okay. I was mortified. But there was nothing I could say because I could see that they weren’t going to believe me. They just didn’t believe me and a high school kids. And they were viciously annoyed that I had gotten them happy that I came back and shame. Right? So I decided, okay, I’m just gonna start a running club, you know, then we’ll have you know, so I went to the principal and asked to do this. And he said, Well, let me think about it for a week. You know, I came back the next week. And he said, You know, I’m so glad to tell you, we have thought of your idea of starting a running team. And there were three other schools sort of nearby that had running teams and high school for girls. And I had girls that were had good times that would have run with me. He said, Well, we really we thought about it, we know what you really want to be out there. So we’re going to give you girls your own little clipboards your own little uniforms, and your own little stopwatches and you can keep the boys times.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 27:31
Elisa Stancil Levine 27:36
Joke. Yeah, okay, I get a vision. I try to make it happen. It’s not happening. So I’m like, Oh, my God. So these situations where something like this happens. I just mentally try to turn this person into dust, they cease to exist. They’re not part of my reality. That’s it, they’re done. So I’m like, Okay, so I’m trying to see what see what, what shall I do? By the second year that I’m back in my high school, and I’m, you know, looking around and I’m thinking, Maybe I just need a boyfriend. It’s very boring here. There’s only like, 3000 people in my town. And it was a mountain town, you know, very limited. So if I had a boyfriend, so I found a boyfriend that was, you know, and then I thought, well, then, you know, he wants to have sex eventually, you know, and I was like, I was not even that person. Okay, who knows what was happening from my super, super past. But it wasn’t time for that in my world. But after much pressure, I decided, well just do it this one time. You know, he thinks it’s very important. It means nothing to me. But even halfway, I didn’t know what halfway might be. I knew nothing. So I’m like, Oh, well, if I do that, but then once I had done that, then I had sinned. So now I’m sinning and I should, don’t know what to say or do about it. I can’t turn the clock back because he thinks I’m available for that. I’ve sort of handed out all my cards. I have no no cards in my hand.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 28:59
Yes, yes. You’ve given him all your power. Yes. Essentially. Yes.
Elisa Stancil Levine 29:05
When I mean, he’s all on 16 or 17 or maybe, yeah, at most. So I’m thinking, well, it’s a sin. So I guess the best thing for me to do since I really don’t want finish high school, I don’t care about anything else. I’ll just get married. I’ll get we’ll get pregnant. I’ll get married, and I’ll be free. The most ridiculous when you think about it, you know?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 29:25
Well, it’s not really it’s not really because a lot of women in different cultures and I know in mine, as in an Italian family with a strict upbringing. A lot of us did get married to get away from our families, so it’s not ridiculous. Anyway, continue with your story.
Elisa Stancil Levine 29:44
The idea to be free as a married 16 year old is pretty hilarious. Anyway, that that baby did they my parents eventually let me marry I had that baby but he died at birth. And that was another crushing time where I really tried to understand what was happening, but I had no one to really share how deeply I felt that maybe I had killed this baby. Maybe if I secretly had murdered him by loving him too much. What else could I have done? What did I do? I did something wrong? It’s just normal. I think it’s normal for a mother who loses a baby no matter what your age that you didn’t keep your promise? No, because you promised this baby life. Right?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 30:22
Yes. But I mean, that’s women who experience miscarriage or stillbirths. They go through a tremendous loss. Yes. And they go through a grieving process, and it’s 16. How do you even fathom that? How do you even know? or label those emotions? and how do you overcome that?
Elisa Stancil Levine 30:45
Yeah, it’s in the book, I, I really, I found finally a key in it, I have this deep anger and anger wasn’t really, it wasn’t directed at anything, but it’s just what’s his deep anger that had to come out. And that’s when I did this sort of a exercise of beating this chair against this very strong wooden wall. And nothing bad happened to the chair or the wall, believe it or not, but it took all this anger out. And then that’s when I just realized that, you know, I just had to let it be what it was.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 31:18
Yes, and anger is part of the grieving process, when you read the Five Steps of Processing Grief, anger is one of those steps.
Elisa Stancil Levine 31:28
So you know, I could see sitting there, after this crying scene with you know, beating wall and everything and, and then a few days later, I tried to act like everything was as if everything was fine, and tried to be like this ideal wife. Now remember, I’m like, 17 half. And I’m trying to make these beautiful little meals for my husband, who was making $1.50 an hour at a gas station, you know? So the big question.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 31:57
You really didn’t marry for money.
Elisa Stancil Levine 32:02
He was 17, 80 by now. So yeah, I just had to start laughing at myself, because I was trying to decide how should I do? Vanilla instant pudding or chocolate into pudding for my husband when he gets home? You know, I’m like, oh, yeah, this is freedom. This is the freedom that you’ve wanted. Look at, look where you are, what is happening? You know, what is happening and I really I just started to like, really try to look at what I was doing with my life but nonetheless, I really felt I had to try to finish this baby thing because it was this emptiness and I prayed and prayed and I got pregnant again, and that baby survived, and that was beautiful. So that became the first person that I really had love and trust with, my son.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 32:51
Yes, yes. And then you went to college after that?
Elisa Stancil Levine 32:56
Well I was only 16. I never left. I never finished high school but I checked. When I was pregnant with my second child. I took computer classes at a business college, and I got a degree it was a nine month course but I was already pregnant when I started it,and so I challenged a bunch of the classes and I got out into net three months with an A rating as a computer input person. And I got a job doing that. But then, as then I went to community college and I live with my mother after I divorced my first husband. I live with my mother for nine months. And I took two semesters of college. I mean, two years of college in one year by taking by challenging and taking 25 units a semester, which I don’t know. Yeah, so
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 33:42
That’s a lot, you would have been working night and day on that.
Elisa Stancil Levine 33:45
Yes, yes, and I yeah, I also invented a but I made I made a bunch of units up by having what do you call them? It wasn’t challenging classes, but they’re independent study. So I’m I just decided I made a four unit course for myself called this literary magazine. And then I got other people to give me contributions. And then I did put out a literary magazine and distributed at the college. And that was four units and I got an A, I gave myself an A, got an A for that. You know, just trying to make things happen. Like I needed them to happen. Hurry up. So when I finished that to two years of school in one year, I was exhausted and I had hardly seen my son, as you can imagine. He would go to school from eight in the morning until 6 PM. I worked at a restaurant from four to 10 or something. My mother picked him up from school and gave him dinner and put him to bed I you know, at least saw my son. My mother was wonderful about doing this, very strongly believes in higher education eventually got her own PhD, but at that time, you know, I was just so busy trying to make my way I really suddenly realized I don’t even know my son he’s gonna go into kindergarten soon and I wanted to spend any time on that. So are they I’m sure my mother didn’t feel good about this. Rather than running out and getting a job or doing looking for a job, I decided to go and live on this thousands, 2000 acres in this little house. It was $40 a month, and I went on welfare and I decided I’m going to spend a year with my son, maybe a year and a half, I’m going to let myself be supported this way and I’m going to pay this all back someday, this is going to be me spending the time immersing myself in mothering and loving my son and knowing him and once that’s done, he’ll be in school. I’ll be working away hard as I can. I’m obviously a hard worker, not a problem.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 35:46
Yeah, and entrepreneurial by the sound. Yes.
Elisa Stancil Levine 35:51
Yes. So I did that, and I found out it’s really not pleasant to live on this little tiny bit of money that welfare will give you it’s just really not okay at all. I did love this place that we live and it was amazing, and it’s well described in the book. And this was most people’s favorite part of the whole book, because it’s a beautiful time, then we were in the country in the wet in nature, and beautiful. And that gave me this interlude from all of this rush and help and, you know, difficulty trying to, you know, in the enterprise of having a wife to just be still. And then from the still realizing, I need now to be that person, I’m going to be that strong person, I’m gonna work hard, and then support my son, and I’m going to face my fears. And so I went to the town, the biggest city near me, and I got this little cottage in the backyard of a bigger house, it was getting remodeled. And that’s how I began to start my business with the remodeling. It’s just intuition and getting lucky. And that’s where all the changes, all the changes are good for me came from intuition, feeling it alone, the force of my own feeling, and hope pushed me to the next open door or even with crack of a window, right to make my way. Now, of course, it was my parents, all the while oh my god, she’s going from pillar to post, she will never find her way. And my father was an entrepreneur and very successful. My mother was very, very learned and very big community volunteer, worked very hard to make a difference. So for them, it was just as, you know, kind of a, I guess a story of failure.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 37:31
Yes, yes, well. You weren’t living, you weren’t living your life in what they perceived or believed was the right way or you weren’t taking what would be the usual path that someone would take you were stepping outside of what was comfortable and normal, normal in inverted commas for them.
Elisa Stancil Levine 37:55
Right,and you know, their idea was always said I was too much. My mother thought I was just simply too much everything I did is just too much.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 38:02
Sorry for laughing. I could relate to some of these. I’m going yeah, I’m a bit too much for my family too.
Elisa Stancil Levine 38:10
Yeah and finally they came to the to decide that I was a late bloomer, and they were happy for my success was great. I’m really glad and certainly in the book also really talks about, you know, how you make peace with these different thing and these people and elements in your life where they did you had no connection and how you finally find a way to get a connection, which I was lucky enough to do with my mother and my father.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 38:35
Yeah, and so you went on to restore for the next six years, I believe you went on to restore 16 Craftsman Houses, we call them Craftsmen where you call them craftsmen. Yes. And if you watch House Hunters, oh, it’s a craftsman. It’s like this big deal that it’s a craftsman. Now I have no idea why it’s a big deal. But that’s okay. And you had this brilliant career. So you went into this career path, and listening to your story you’ve overcome so much to get to where you’re at? Where do you think this inner strength comes from? I mean, it’s incredible. And and, and I think that’s, I would love to hear what you believe. Was it something that was in there within you already? or is it something that you build up? You become more resilient as you face and overcome adversity? Where’s that strength come from to do this?
Elisa Stancil Levine 39:39
Well, I have one of my cousins who was with this whole experience with my grandparents. She and I were talking today and we’re very similar with this. We just have this brain just like to figure stuff out. So if it’s not working here, if you’ve if there’s two things that don’t work, maybe if you put these two bad things together work maybe maybe it’s or maybe Yeah, or maybe this is this, you know, we will not stop, we just like to, I call it shaking the box, you know, you look at something and it’s not quite what you want and you want to shake the box. What’s in there? Tell me tell me what to do now. You know, let me get them to the right place at the right time for the right reason, or yeah, and she’s similar in that. And she also did a lot of remodeling, who turns out interesting, because it’s like, we’re just –
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 40:24
Wow, kindred spirits.
Elisa Stancil Levine 40:26
Yeah, we’re kinetically you know, gifted physically. So we’re very very strong and we like to make transformation. I’m just, that’s my wheelhouse, transformation. You know, let me transform something. And then, you know, then go on, and transform something else.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 40:43
Okay, so transform something that’s not quite good, or perfect. and transform it into perfect. So make a right out off a wrong.
Elisa Stancil Levine 40:54
Yes, yes. Exactly, and what often is always ask, and I think, I think it’s the simple question, what is wanted? All right. Okay. You could be tasting your pie filling, and it doesn’t taste quite right. You can just sit there all day, if it doesn’t taste, right, it doesn’t taste that doesn’t tell you anything. What does it want, you know, could be just only with some little tiny thing that is to say, right, and so it’s this whole idea of what is wanted. And so I think I could I’d credit all this kind of thinking to nature and watching how nature will bend and move and you know, things happen like a lizard a tiny lizard will come up and look at me and and I’ll just see it and then I just take a little tiny bit of water and put it in the cap of my water bottle. And this happened in arches which is a very hot there because this little bit of water out and they can be the lizard comes over and starts drinking out of them. Little bowl of water, right? Yeah. And you just and say what is wanted? I love this lizard is coming to me for something while I’m drinking water, man! Maybe it wants water? Yes, it does. Yay. You know?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 42:05
So it sounds like you’re a problem solver, or so.
Elisa Stancil Levine 42:09
Yes! I like that. I think I’ve I like to think of it more as being intuitive and more like, it ends up looking like I’m thinking that I know what to do all the time. That isn’t not true at all. You just have to be curious and listen and then respond.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 42:27
Agree, yes. So when you’re out in nature, what is it that you do usually like if you decide, Okay, today, you live in this amazing part of the world? I’m just going to go out there into nature. Do you meditate? Do you pray? Do you just sit there in stillness? What is it that you do?
Elisa Stancil Levine 42:50
Well, it depends. So actually, I’m writing this article right now for a magazine in the Pacific Northwest, about five things you can gain from nature outdoors, they asked me to write it down. I’m thinking, Okay, I went out today and I knew I was writing this,and I have the five things in my mind but I see this really even older than me, old people out probably about three miles out on a trail with their sticks, you know, and I said, this is what I’m writing, you know, and what you have to say about these five things, and they started right away. While you know, you can get your circulation with all this sort of medical thing. And I found out that the guy that’s telling me all these points is 95. And he’s out there hiking. Okay. So first of all, when I go out, I try not to know what I’m doing, because I’ll get bored. I’ve been on this mountain for 17,18,19 years now. So I know all these trails. I know I have a bunch of favorite trees and all kinds of fun little things that I do. But if in fact, I’m out there to be in nature, I would like to be bringing the idea of wonder, in essence with me receiving it. And one of the five things that I was bringing up in this article is that when you have any questions you can go out, and you can ask for signs. And I would suggest you’re not really getting answered, you’re getting ideas. So if I’m having a professional issue, or a family issue, and I need, I can see,I could use some guidance, I can say I’m looking for size, and I go out, and you may see a leaf that is two different colors. And you realize that there’s two sides to everything and you’re only looking at one side. So you should be looking at both sides. And now this is a new idea and you will keep walking and thinking about that and it will open you up. Yes, I do meditate sometimes. And I suggest that as well as you can do. You can double up you can meditate, do a walking meditation. And so if you’re a person who likes to succeed, check a lot of boxes, you’re going to be hiking and meditating up to things that was good. Sometimes I need that. Other times times, if I feel if I’m feeling heartsick for whatever reason, it could be political, socio, socio-economic.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 45:07
and there’s a lot to be heartsick about there at the moment.
Elisa Stancil Levine 45:11
Yes. If I feel heartsick, I will put my chest against a tree and the idea behind that I had to write this out today. Why do I believe in so much, it’s really I know that the tree has been a silent witness, you know, without judgment for all these, you know, for hundreds of years or something, maybe decades, and it’s present. And if I put my heart against it in it, and allow it to feel my heartbeat, we are both sort of resonating in this moment, you know, I’m giving respect to this tree, and what it has what it stands for, and it may give me something. And of course, as a woowoo person, I think it is giving me something and so of how that goes. So today was supposed to be thinking about what I was going to write about that I met this old guy, I love that I saw some pears were almost blooming, and this ancient orchard stuff was happening that was totally fulfilling, and just piles on the gratitude of being on the planet.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 46:12
And also to just going back to your career, when you founded Stancil Studios, and this was an award winning nationwide company, and you’re working with the houses of billionaires like massive projects, your colors and designs were featured in every major American design magazine, you had this huge career, did you still find time to go out in nature? And how much did nature influence your business ideas or your creativity?
Elisa Stancil Levine 46:50
All the time. I will take pictures and send them when somebody was saying they wanted something, that something like a certain green or something, I would just take moss pictures and leave pictures and all that, and send that to them and see what they thought. And in the ideas of how to combine warming cool, which, of course, is one of the things that you know, let’s just say you’re in Italy, and you see a wonderful, buttery house, but it has this weird stony gray trim, right? We mean you in terms of using this, but this is warm and cool and this makes a hole it makes people feel resonant and safe, and you know, grounded, that there’s happiness, and there’s strength, right? Warm and cool, or warm heart and soul. You know, these are the things that I try to impart with the way I layer colors etc, or combine color and so all of these things that I ever saw all through my little tiny childhood up on and on to now has to do. I’m just looking, I’m witnessing, and I have this intense visual memory, just because that’s just where I am. So even, even remodeling houses and seeing how things are degraded and what makes them look old, when it’s time for me to emulate it, something that’s aged, and maybe even degraded. I know exactly what it looks like, because I had to fix that when I was buying houses the Restore, you’re making look fresh. So it’s really, really fascinating how I use nature. And yes, I’ve always lived in a place where I could go on hikes and walks. Even if I was in a New Jersey suburb, visiting my you know, long term boyfriend.I found a nature reserve, preserve. Just as it was like three blocks away. He knew that whenever I’m in nature, I would be able to see whatever I wanted to see, and when we were out there one day and he said, You know I, I’m a little bit disappointed because I thought maybe we were out here we would see some deer well who knew they were deer in the area, and I said you want to see deer? and he said, Yeah, I think he should bring you some deer. I said, Okay, this is what you have to do. Go with that tree and put your heart against the tree and wait, so we did and I heard deer then running by! Okay, am I kidding? Instantly.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 48:59
Oh my gosh.
Elisa Stancil Levine 49:02
And we were out in Sedona, and we we’re on vacation. We’re in Sedona, which is beautiful, you know, Arizona, red rocks and there’s so many red rocks, sometimes you can get lost. So all of a sudden he finally admits, you know, I think you know, I think we might be lost, because we’re supposed to be remarking from these. Karen’s to Karen’s, but it’s Karen’s everywhere. How do you know which, you know, they all have to say, he said, You know, I said, he said, I have to admit, I don’t quite know which way it go. I said well, okay, and we’ll just have to do this. Take your hand and hold it up like this and wait for a butterfly, and he says, why? I said a butterfly will come it’ll she’ll show us where to go.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 49:39
Oh my gosh.
Elisa Stancil Levine 49:41
I know. I told you, I move. So we do and this butterfly came and flew around three times and then went that way. We went that way, and it was the right way and we came home.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 49:54
That is very woowoo but you found your way. So yeah, so it sounds like to me through nature, you tapped into your intuition as well. So you must believe it. Yeah. Do you believe that your intuition is smarter than your brain?
Elisa Stancil Levine 50:12
Yeah, I don’t know much about what is the brain to me, this is me. It’s like a circle from the top of my head down to the, to my waist. This is me and my thinking and my feeling and my brain is all want. And I mean, I mean, I think many people in the music industry and in the voice world will understand that idea of synesthesia. Definitely. I’m missing a state and other words, I have no boundary between some of my senses. So, but mostly mine is content. So it’s texture, and feeling and that’s where food, music, sound, taste, color. All these things are all to me kinetic, they’re a feeling, you know, essential feeling. So that’s just a big ball of feelings, basically.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 50:59
Yes, yes. I have a student who’s like that.
Elisa Stancil Levine 51:03
Yeah. And some people see colors of you might my granddaughter’s ascendancy, and she sees certain letters or a certain color and all that kind of thing. I don’t have that type but yeah, and what happens when you’re that way? Is you because you’re born that way you think that everybody has that? Tried to explain or describe stuff? Like I’ll say to people, you know, that’s a very fragile pink. And they’re like, oh, it is fragile, you know? Or, you know, that’s an innocent blue. Oh, it, isn’t it? You know, it’s just, I mean, I’m sitting here, you know, you can just see it, looking at it right now, I’ve tried to tell you that, right, but that’s, it’s striking to me, and I can track and that’s skill.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 51:41
Yes. So you have this brilliant career, then with Stancil with this business with Stancil Studio. Talk about some of the houses, what was the most brilliant house or the most rewarding makeover you’ve ever done?
Elisa Stancil Levine 51:59
What each building and job is very different, I would have to say, perfect, it’s a quirkiness of these different clients and the things that they decided they must have a building was being built, and it was all brand new, and it was 55,000 square feet, I don’t know that I don’t think you use square feet where you were –
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 52:17
No way, meters. But that’s okay. That’s big.
Elisa Stancil Levine 52:21
Okay, big and it was so this building was being built with this really amazing and very rare wood inside and it had Mahogany windows and pine logs outside and so it was like this temporary kind of, you know, Westerny feeling. Wow and huge. And he wanted all of these windows inside that were mahogany, solid mahogany, which is perfectly beautiful, to manage all of the all this beautiful and very expensive with it and use throughout the rest of the house all panelized you know, there’s no pain. So it’s all wood to our job as artisans was to create the grain to make it look exactly the same. All of the windows, which are 365, French windows, had to be painted by regular painter to this base color ruin the mahogany, basically. So it’s going to say yes, and then paint it to match this other word. And I tried to convince him, you know, I said, you know, many people would feel that this is perhaps a mistake, because you have a beautiful, you know, solid mahogany window, which is being its own true self. And there’s nothing to not like about that. And yet you’re wanting me to paint it to this lesser grade, you know, to match. I mean, do you are you sure you want to do this? I mean, this is hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost for him and we because 10 of us had to fly up there and live while we’re doing this work and that’s pay for all this travel and housing as well. This is our thing as we fly wherever the job is, and you know, it’s not cheap. But truly, he just simply truly had to have that. And we succeeded. Amazingly, it came out beautiful, and that was good but you know, there’s all just facing working on his view of what must be to make him feel complete. Right? So we did that. Now there’s other jobs where it would be at least 72 room apartment at three storey episode of apartments on Park Avenue. That was the Rockefellers apartment and now there was 39 rooms that I will be working on that was on Park Avenue and had a wrap-around patios and everything on I don’t remember what floor that was twice second or something. So was two stories of this incredible place and these rooms were done over into this extremely flawless Georgian architecture, and just truly beautiful and I love working on this place and all of these different rooms and there was rooms that had been 17 week. We borrow a piece of it 17th century panelized room rosary and then we emulated that having that right in the room to copy from, to make this room match it just all these different things that we did there were incredible, but then when that time passed, and that was all done, it was photographed, it was in every kind of magazine, it was amazing. The clients eventually went bankrupt, and everything that they had was sold to Sotheby’s and I realized that this one desk that was selling for $6 million, I had stood on top, because I was still –
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 55:37
Standing on it to paint or do whatever.
Elisa Stancil Levine 55:41
because the women thatthey had, they had a room that they didn’t want to have to take everything out of because they needed it to be that she wasn’t happy with the color. Someone else had done a long, long before and I said, Well, she says, is there anything you can do? I just have to fix this. I think we I can fix it, but you can’t come in the room. Because I don’t want you to see what we’re gonna have to do to just no, just don’t come in the room, and we’ll be done a day. But if you just don’t come in.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 56:06
Yes, leave us alone to do our thing.
Elisa Stancil Levine 56:09
We did it and I was very happy with it, but I mean, later, it’s like, oh my God, I didn’t know that was a Georgian or whatever desk, right? Rare. That’s gonna be, and then I’ve had jobs where I’m doing in the middle of a desert. It is French Chateau, and they’re making it look like a French Chateau, and I’m there to do it and we have worked the whole building completely to do an age it and make it a 1000s of square feet everywhere and two and three storey big, great rooms and that kind of thing and the client came in, she said, I just feel so good when you’re here. I just don’t know I could you just stay and do another column on everything. This is, she only was an idea that she had and this idea was based on was the company that she used to have when she wanted to have a French Chateau, and now she was done with that company and they had never had this French chateau. But now we’re gonna have it in this new place, which is a desert and they decided to also make a moat. I mean, this is a desert. Okay.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 57:16
Make a moat in the desert. Yeah. Do they not know what a moat is for? Have they not watched any movies?
Elisa Stancil Levine 57:26
They never hardly ever used that house. They’re just a really interesting couple that were from Nebraska. Little tiny town of 300 that he invented this amazing thing. That was for surgery and microsurgery thing that was heated took off worldwide and they just have this unreasonable amount of money and then they thought, well, maybe they do this or that they always thought that would be nice. So now I had it and they just burped what they had. I mean, they’re the her dressing room was as big as many people’s home.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 58:00
Oh my gosh, I would love a dressing room like that and I tell you, I would fill it with mostly shoes.
Elisa Stancil Levine 58:07
She wore the same. She wore I don’t know if the wrong probably weren’t the same jeans, but I only started jeans and then our shirts, and they had a horse.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 58:16
So what did she put in the room? You know that one pair of jeans?
Elisa Stancil Levine 58:21
Inside of all the closets are shown with this that we should do this combed pattern. It looks like can you know it’s just like a cream color and then you put the light green and then that dries and then you put a blue like this. So it looks like a blue and green check. It’s calmed, and then and I thought we’d do it on these few huge shoots shoe cabinets. So look pretty and she would like it because her last name happened to be Green. So she sees that and she goes okay, I love that do that in all the cabinets inside all the cabinets and this whole mimetic took us, you know, how long weeks and you know, well.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 59:00
Wow, that’s incredible
Elisa Stancil Levine 59:02
I mean, I can’t really I mean other times I have things on my website understand, stancilstudios.com you will see really delicious color. I mean, people will allow me to do this incredibly rich salmon rose kind of color, or red, I would start with the red panelized room it start with a watermelon color, and layer transparent red over transparent red over transparent red until you built this color that you just couldn’t live without.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 59:28
Oh my gosh, we have to have everyone go and check out the website, stancilstudios.com. Ah, so all these adversities that you’ve been through and there’s been others that we talked about yesterday, there was another one that occurred to you at age 27, which we don’t need to share, but I think people get the idea you’ve been through a lot, but you’ve also achieved a lot and this beautiful relationship that you’ve had with Nature, and you’ve trusted nature. From the time that you were that little one and a half year old in the shoes, and you just found your place where you belonged and you’ve, you’ve had this incredible trust, where you’ve trusted nature to help you with ideas to give you direction but you’ve also said that, even though you had this beautiful trust and this beautiful relationship with nature, it is not like that with human nature. How is your relationship with human nature now?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:00:36
Right is on the mend. My relationships with humans as I was, the fire itself, that we have here five years ago, almost five years ago, made me realize that I have a long way to go with human nature. That I had never really trusted it or investigated it. I never looked for the wonder, you know, or the beauty in others. I was it was mostly transactional. I have people I feel good about and I like, and there’s people that I want to make happy and it was especially comfortable if I would zoom into your project and do what I promise and make you happier than you can ever thought you could be. Even clap clap your hands enjoy or even cry, and then I would leave and I’m done.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:01:28
Right, right, right. So there was a use by date, an expiry date.
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:01:35
Totally transactional. There was a connection during the collaborative process and I have some friends now that are former clients, and they’re beautiful and there’s a beautiful friendship, and they’re nationwide and that’s wonderful. I feel really lucky, mostly women and the fire made me realize when I ran down the mountain without thinking to reach out to my neighbors, that there was something very wrong here if I am so you know, spiritual, right? What about people? Okay, there’s something about turning into your later years that you make you realize, you know, I don’t want to be done but what should I put my focus on? Right? I did this, I did that. What shall I focus on then? and this is like, the biggest scary thing for me, to be vulnerable to others? to, you know, let them see who I am and to be curious, and to let them show me who they are, and I mean, the first step this book and having it out there is great in a way but again, it’s transactional, because I’m showing people my part, but am I going to be that person that opens to what is your part? Right? I’ve given myself 20 years to get good at that.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:02:55
Yeah, finally 20. Only 20. Well, yes. I mean, your story is incredible and what lessons have you learned throughout your life, and the journey you’ve been on?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:03:10
I have a great suggestion for people that came from a long ago book and it’s really interesting, when you have fear, it’s really common to think that and you’re looking at your future, and you’re fearing what this next step will be. You feel like everything that you when you step into the future, it’s going to be filled with this fear that you’re seeing but no, I just want you to try this practice. Imagine a threshold and imagine that you’re looking into this room of the unknown, and realize that was hanging between you and this room is this little gossamer veil of fear. When you’re looking through that gossamer veil, you think that’s all the room is flooded with use, make that step from where you are today to where you’re going, you will be in the now, you will no longer be thinking about the future, you will be in the future and the future will be known and it will not be full of fear, there will be just this other room tomorrow is another room, right? This is another day of this moment, the step that you take, like you accept a job or you have this challenge or you feel like you’re not trained properly and you have no proper training, you know, this fear will come over you but really the what people are wanting is what you have to give, not where you went to school, right? What you have to contribute. So let your when you feel fear, just let yourself step through it. Be loving to yourself, but let yourself step through it.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:04:40
And do you feel that you’ve healed from all your past trauma? or do you feel that you’re still a work in progress? Other than not trusting people, or having that issue with with human nature, but do you feel that you’ve healed in other ways? Like you don’t feel that shame anymore that you felt what, as a younger child, you don’t have that anger that you had?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:05:05
Yeah, I don’t have near as much of any of that and the shadow aspect of, you know, things that are unresolved, is much smaller but there will be triggers. I mean, I think for everyone, things don’t fully go away. So there will be triggers and, you know, I have, I will have tendency to suppress my feelings, using, you know, long long hikes sometimes or three glasses of wine, sometimes things, you know, and I can, I will, if I see myself doing it and realize I’m going in that place, yeah, I’ll go there. I’ll go there for a little while and then I’ll come back around, you know, I think I’m pretty forgiving, of myself and all of the past.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:05:48
Well, obviously forgave your mother because, you know, you said that, as that child, you didn’t want to be in the home, you wanted to be with your grandmother and then you went back to your mum when you had your young son. So obviously, you have forgiveness there in terms of the positives, because I believe everything happens for a reason to us and we’re meant to learn lessons through those. What, what are some of the beautiful qualities that you’ve discovered about yourself as a result of what’s happened to so not, let’s not look at the negatives, and I don’t believe that you’ve ever thought of yourself as a victim, but what is some of the beautiful qualities and the strengths that you’ve discovered about yourself?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:06:36
You know, if you think of it, I like durability. I think durability and count on ability, it’s just such a cool thing and I can immediately if I say durability, I see a rock. I like the fact that I am a person first. So I always thought of myself as a person first, who happens to be a girl, you know, I don’t need to be limited by the fact that I happen to be a girl, I’m a person, you know, I have no limitations, right? So that really, I was really strongly feeling that I could defend myself and support myself, and in the end make a difference in my community, in my family.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:07:15
Mm hmm, well, and so what are you up to next? You’ve achieved so much already. Do you have any other little projects you’re working on?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:07:25
One of the things I’m doing right now that I love, is I’m cooking for I cook for 200 meals. I cook the main course. You know, it’s a, it’s on Wednesdays, I have four hours, I’m with two other chefs, but they give me my own project and I get to do everything and it’s like a giant in the Night Kitchen. If you know Maurice Sendak’s book, but it’s like, imagine the pots are so huge, right? It’s like, you’re, it’s a lot, so I do that. That’s a thrill and I know that that food is going to people that really will appreciate it, and so that makes me really happy.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:08:02
So it’s for people in need.
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:08:04
Yes and the way that it’s distributed, they come in there, and they can get as many meals as they want did or preset into these to go containers. So they get this meal, like we give up. I think 200, 160, breakfasts, 160 lunches, which are also dinners, and they can pick them up and there’s no explanation required, you simply come and you take what you want and we get all this food from the community and from all the stores that have overage, right? And then we have great donations. So then we can buy what else is needed to make these amazing meals that are so creative, and fun and beautiful. So that’s fun. That’s just a little passion project. I’m writing a new book. It’s called it’s temporarily called Notes From The Studio, and in fact, I’ll be writing it in this little studio. It’s down in my metro as soon as the theater people are done using it, but there it’s really a raw kind of amusing but also very lessons learned kind of thing about my work and lessons of life and that’s calling to me. I’ll be writing that this winter. We have a new grandson, that’s really fun.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:09:19
Beautiful, how old?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:09:20
He is two now and he’s really, it’s just a really beautiful time and my two grand daughters are 20 almost 28 and 25 and my son, you know took over the company and so he’s running the company and all that now and it’s his.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:09:35
and is he doing a good job?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:09:37
His doing a very good job in a very different, according to him, you know, which is ideal and a family business. There’s issues you know, in that the will the entrepreneur the founder is pushing like a seed through the soil right? You’re pushing I’m very pushy. He is very reassuring and everyone is loving, I’m having him around the company can tell you right now. So it’s working out fine.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:10:04
Well, you probably had to be that way, as a woman, if you had have been agreeable as a woman, and not stood firm and planted your feet into the ground, you wouldn’t have been successful.
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:10:21
It was hard in the 70s. There were not very many women in the business at all. So, you know, you’re showing up like a woman on a boat or something like that. What are you doing here? You know, are you I’m gonna make something nice. You know, I’ll bring cookies and my son said, when he first started, he said, You know, I’m just not going to bring all these guys cookies. I’m not going to be able to do that. You know? You can do it. Do it. However you can, it worked for me.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:10:45
Yes, yes. So what would you say to other women? There’s two categories here, and they may overlap. So what would you say to a woman who’s in a male orientated industry? Like so many of our performers, I’ve always had to work with male musicians and it was that, you know, I faced misogyny there in that in that as a woman in the entertainment business, what would you say to a woman going into that kind of male oriented industry?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:11:19
I have a secret technique, that works pretty dang good.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:11:22
Oh, let us in?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:11:24
Well first of all, I know that men are scared of us, just say. So that’s too bad but there’s Jackie, you can kind of make that work in a way and when I have a very strong client or a very, very bullish, contractor person, and they said, it has to be X, Y or Z. I usually take my hand and I turned to their forearm and I go, yes. First thing I say, I never say no. I always say yes. Yeah. So they’ll say, you know, I don’t want this. I don’t want that. This can’t be and you have to do this. Like, oh, yes, that sounds great. Yes, we will do it like you say, yes. And the other thing is, we’re gonna start, you know, right here right now. Right? You know, so just say yes, three times, and then get your way.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:12:05
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:12:06
The second sidelining snake that comes in and they bite, you know, and they do, because they’re, they’re so relieved that, you know, you know,
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:12:17
I’ve also learned that you have to present the idea and then allow them to think that it was their idea, and then they’re all good.
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:12:25
That works sometimes, but I’m not very I’m, I’m a person who gives everything away by my I have, I’m not I don’t have a poker face. So if I think I’m gonna get my way, too, if I’m, if I’m too clever by half, it’s evident, and then they get all upset, you know, because I’m like, sitting there rubbing my hands together on the sideline. So if you can do it without that, yeah, but as also using voice and my son always says, you know, I use the snake charming voice and when I use the snake charming voice, and people want to do what I would, I think could be a really good idea.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:13:03
Wow, I like that voice that that is very calming that voice makes me want to agree and what about okay, the second question for women, specifically? Well, no, this doesn’t. This doesn’t have to be only for women but what about other people who have found themselves or are currently in a situation where they’re experiencing abuse, whether it’s sexual abuse, any kind of abuse, what would you say to them?
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:13:36
This is, first thing I would say to them is you have a deep well of joy within you, you had a deep well of joy within you and I and I will sit I will tell you that you can call upon your deep sense of self and I use angels you can use any kind of idea that you like, could you can give guidance and safety are calling on your angels and on your own deep well of joy. So trust yourself to take good care of you and do what is needed. Trust yourself.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:14:10
Well, that is, that makes me want to cry. That is just so profound and so beautiful, Elisa, thank you. Well, we’re going to share your links with our audience, where if people want to get in touch with you, they want to read your book, find out more about the work that you’ve done, look at some of those beautiful homes, anything we will share all those links in the show notes and they can find you there but I want to thank you for your time, for your openness and for being so authentic and real. It’s been truly a privilege having you on the show. And I wish you all the very best in your future and your future endeavors and you truly are an inspiration. Thank you and hope to catch you in the future.
Elisa Stancil Levine 1:15:01
Yes, thank you.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:15:02
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:15:07
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 #AVoiceAndBeyond. 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. But 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.