Sometimes, when you’re meant to hear a message, the universe will send it to you over and over again in a variety of ways. That’s what happened to me this week with the message about how we all need to become more of who we are, so that’s what we’re talking about on the podcast!
I’m happy to be joined this week by my sweetheart and partner in all things, Yani Vozos. Yani is a Greek-Appalachian musician, farmer, educator, activist, visionary, and champion of sustainable agriculture.
We chat about our shared commitment to helping each other be our best selves, times in his life when he made bold moves toward fulfilling his purpose, the mentors that have shaped his thinking, and some of his favorite creative practices.
And we talk about the power of the words “I am”, plus why you’re “kind of a big deal”!
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welcome to the what dreamers do podcast. i’m your host carla govan and appalachian musician flatfoot dancer, mama creative and dreamer from kentucky. i’m on a mission to inspire others to realize their dreams and live their most creative lives. grab your mason jar full of sweet tea or something a little stronger, and pull up a chair, because it’s time to get your dream off.
that’s what dreamers do. well, hey there welcome dreamers. i’m so happy to be back in your speakers for another week. this week, we are going to talk about becoming more of who you truly are. and on that subject, i thought it would be the perfect episode to introduce you to my partner, jani bozos who definitely helps me become more of who i truly am. so i would like to start today by introducing him he is a musician and educator, a farmer, a proponent of sustainable living and sustainable agriculture, a world changer, a visionary. and he can also salsa dance and make balaclavas. so he’s pretty much perfect. welcome, thanks for being here. let me embarrass you straight out of the gate.
hi, everybody. happy to be here.
yeah, so we’re sitting here in my kitchen, as where i usually record the podcasts at my kitchen table. yanni has had a big cup of joy tea. so that’s kind of like personality, juice, it’s
full of joy, extra joy, today,
extra caffeine and extra joy. we are tea people, we start our day, every day with tea. and usually we work our way up to coffee as the day moves on. so right now we’re still in the tea hour. and we’re really happy to be here with you. i got the idea to do this theme. because while because i’m always reading and i’m always processing and listening to things. but i’ve been doing this training on writing better emails, and just being a better writer with a woman named sally hogshead. and this quotation from her training really stood out to me. and she said, to become more successful, you don’t have to change who you are, you have to become more of who you are. the world is not changed by people who sort of care, the world is changed by people who wildly madly, and irrationally care. so i love that idea. i love everything about that, that quotation, and it really spoke to me, because i do feel that i’ve been on a lifelong journey to become more of who i am to become okay with who i am to shake off the conditioning that we all receive. from everything around us, you know, from the television, from our culture, our society, our parents, our schools, from the patriarchy itself from outmoded ideas. and you know, sometimes the things that we receive are good, and some of them maybe just don’t serve us very much, or they’re not as functional. so, i definitely believe in the process of living an examined life and living an intentional life. and letting go of this stuff that just doesn’t make me happier, doesn’t serve my joy or doesn’t serve my purpose here on earth. letting go of that, and really diving into who i am what i connect with. that’s one reason that i wanted to chat with yanni about it, because i’ll tell a little story about when we first started hanging out. we weren’t really dating yet. but we were sitting on his couch. we’re having this conversation. we’re kind of talking about dating a little bit like, oh, what, what are you? are you dating right now. and he’s said something. and it was one of those moments where you know how sometimes people just like the light shifts in the room, and the air shifts, and you can tell that they’re really speaking their deepest truth. because we’ve been sort of just casually chatting and all of a sudden the air changed. and he said something to the effect of, well, i want to be with somebody who uplifts me and supports me that we inspire each other, that we can help each other be what we truly came here to be and to be our best selves and nurture each other and if if i can’t have that i don’t want to be in a relationship. and then things kind of went back to normal and it changed back to the regular conversation but there was a part of me that just really set up and and took note because it was such a powerful statement in just a really quick moment and i i feel like that’s been one of our fundamental tenants and our relationship one of our agreements is that we we help each other be our best selves and and really dive into like who that question who am i? what am i doing here? what do i want to do with my my precious time here on earth? so, so happy to be here to talk with you about that i will not hog the microphone the whole time, i promise. you, you have a really good radio voice anyway, i like smooth, you know, like i went, i want you to narrate some audiobooks for me listen,
okay, yeah, that can be arranged for sure. well, so
just to maybe start off with a question just an icebreaker. i am curious if you can talk about a time or an experience in your life or just a moment or something that made you decide that you really wanted to be yourself and be free and express yourself? because those are themes that come up for you again, and again, you know, when you talk, it’s just?
well, that’s a good question. i feel like there’s a few different things that come to mind. i remember when i was 18. and getting ready to go to college. and i had decided that i wanted to go to uk because that was the only option. i guess, for me, it was staying in state. and then i decided at the last minute that i wanted to go out on a limb and totally change everything and have a new experience. and i went to the university of pittsburgh. and it costs more money. and i had to take out a bunch of loans. but it was it was a conscious decision that i wanted to do something different. i wanted to do something because all my family had gone to university of kentucky, and i was just going to kind of go in that tradition and whatnot. but i decided i was going to blaze my own trail, go somewhere new and have a new experience. and i sure did it. and there was a lot of cool things that happened. as a result of that i got to travel a lot, i got to travel around the world. i lived in london for a semester, lived in new york city, doing an internship, and it just kind of basically, that decision kind of pushed my life in a direction that i probably wouldn’t have happened if i had stayed in kentucky in that moment. so it was it was a great, it was a great move. another time. similarly, i decided after college after i was out of college for about a year that i wanted to join the peace corps and have another adventure. and you know, my family kind of thought that was crazy. but they supported me and i did that, again in kind of once again blazing a new trail, figuring out what i wanted to do. and it really kind of touched upon that part of me that really wanted to help other people. this is this has been a lifelong desire of mine is to, you know, help people. and in that moment, i wanted to go where people needed me the most. and by god, i was sent there, you know, so i spent almost three years in honduras, central america helping after a town had been completely destroyed by a flood. so it was helping in the rebuilding of that town. and it also allowed me a great deal of free time to where i could focus on practicing one of my art forms, which is singing. and so i use that time to really dive into my singing, and songwriting and it was really beneficial.
so that’s interesting. i know a lot of us feel these impulses, like oh, i think i want to go somewhere and help people or i want to i want to travel, what is it that you think allowed you to give yourself that freedom? how did you find the courage to act on those impulses? instead of just thinking oh, that would be nice and then never doing anything about it?
i think my desire outweighed my obligation to others or to my family or to the world to do to do what i’m supposed to do. you know, like, oh, i’m gonna go to school and get a degree and then i’m gonna go you know, get a job and get married and all those things that was my desire to help people my desire to have a new experience my my adventurous spin spirit that kind of led me and i just said, yeah, i’m gonna do this because i can and you know, at that moment, you know, i wasn’t in a relationship. i didn’t have any kids and have any obligations. it’s like, yeah, i gotta go for it. i gotta go for it, because that could change at any moment. and so, but yeah, my desire outweighed my obligation. and you said yes to your spirit said, yes, i’m going to follow my heart, i’m going to follow, you know, an intuition and, you know, being 100% honest, i mean, you know, it was hard. the peace corps was hard. it was it was very challenging. and what do they say toughest job you’ll ever, you know, it was it was hard. and being isolated, i lived in a town there was we didn’t have a phone, there was no electricity, which actually was kind of nice, because your life gets very simple when you don’t have electricity. and you’re able to build relationships, focus more on your relationships with people that you’re close to. but you know, that that was the decision i made, and it was hard, but it really gave me a lot of great treasures that i was able to utilize in my life to like i said, i was able to help a lot of people, we planted lots of trees, over 1000 trees reforesting, this this area, i learned spanish fluently. and i, i really developed my singing voice, which is something that prior to that, you know, was just kind of like something i did on the side, it wasn’t anything that i was really, truly proud of. but it allowed me the time to focus on that, because i didn’t have any distractions, there was no electricity. so i had a lot of free time. and that’s what i’ve devoted that free time to. you know, most recently, i would say, what has kind of put me in a direction to follow my dreams is when when i was laid off from my my last full time position at the university, i had worked for 10 years at the university. and due to budget cuts, i was laid off. and so that wasn’t like a choice, per se. it was
no, although i will recall that. in the in the months and years leading up to that layoff. i had heard a lot of rumblings from you about how you wanted to spend more time on your music and how you wanted to that you felt like you maybe weren’t quite there, you enjoyed helping people you enjoyed helping the students but you weren’t quite dialed all the way into to what you wanted to be doing with your time. so
yeah, absolutely. no, i had, i had felt like i wanted to do something different or do life differently. especially that aspect of life, employment. and so i was all of a sudden really freed up. and again, i allowed my desire to take over my obligation so i could have in that moment, i could have gotten another full time job and just, you know, bounce from one thing to the next. but i was like, you know what, this is an opportunity for me to do something different, and to try things that i’ve wanted to try for a long time. and so that was four years ago, and so far, so good. i’m still on that path. i’m doing more of a creative lifestyle. i’m self employed doing various things, but focused around my creative life and being a musician and being a songwriter. being an educator, and being a farmer and various things.
well on that note, i think maybe our listeners might enjoy hearing a little sample of you singing maybe something in spanish oh, yeah,
that’s that’d be great.
what do you want to play um,
i would love to play reina de mi corazon. it’s a great song that is basically my philosophy in songwriting and, and whatnot is that every song is a prayer, every song is a is a wish that someone is making. and it could be a message that you’re trying to send, it could be a desire you’re trying to fulfill. but every song is a prayer. and in my mind, that’s where i write my songs from and so this particular song during the quarter son was a prayer for me to find the person i was looking for one but also to be the person i meant to be, and to sing and dance and spread my joy spread my love. so a lot of things going on in this one, but that’s essentially what
it is how you find your person is by being yourself. that’s the singing and dancing
ideal. that’s the ideal. and the translation of this title is queen of my heart. so
well thanks this one’s special to me too because i got to sing some harmony with you on and so i’ll play a little bit of that for you guys good job john merrick almost demonic almost so nice. so nice makes you want to dance doesn’t it feels good? well, diving back into our little interview here. one other thing that i was thinking about is how often times a mentor, or even a mentor that you don’t meet in the form of a book that you read or somebody that you listened to, can be one of the tools that helps you become more of who you really are? has there been an important mentor? or or just a figure or a person or someone in your life that’s really inspired you?
that’s a great question. i, i would say. i would say that my most influential mentors here recently, are the people that i studied with at the school of metaphysics. this was a big part of my life, for a couple of years, prior to meeting new is that i studied metaphysics, and i had, i had several different teachers. and they were just teaching about these universal truths that i had not really known about, but make a lot of sense to me. and so essentially, they were teaching, about dream interpretation, about goal setting, about visualization, about meditation, and all these things that throughout my life kind of sounded really complicated. but in the end, were very simple and came very naturally to me. and so i think, for me, these mentors really helped to unlock parts of me that had just been, you know, in the background, and i wasn’t able to bring out until after meeting them. it wasn’t anything that they were doing in their life. like, they hadn’t had a ton of success in these areas, or financial success or material success, but they were successful in bringing these areas out. and it’s something that i think really helped me, steward spiritual tools, virtual tools, spiritual tools. yeah, absolutely. and doing those things, meditation visualization.
well, that kind of leads into my next question about, i was going to ask if there were particular tools, or i don’t know rituals, or just whatever you might reach for when you are trying to have a creative practice or, you know, trying to get yourself in the groove of doing what what you want to do. but you know, how sometimes we get in our own way of doing what we really want to do and we waste time doing other things. and that’s something we’ve talked about so far on this podcast a lot is having a creative practice and the importance of just allowing yourself to at least spend a little bit of time each day doing that thing that you really that lights you up but that you know that we can get in our own way so so would you say, what are some of those tools for you? are those the spiritual things or do you have other tools?
oh, yeah. many, many tools. you to get things going to get the wheels moving to get the juices flowing, it’s really great. i mean, i could go through my daily routine or whatever some, on some days, you know, what i like to do is i like to get up, you know, take a shower, kind of invigorate myself and then do a little yoga and meditate. and then i just start writing, i just start writing in my journal, and i don’t think i just write automatic writing, if you want to call it that i just write write, write, write, write. and it’s really cool to read back on some of the things that come out. and it might be one line, it might be one word that i write. but it could inspire something bigger. and so it’s really a kind of a tool to write from your soul is that post meditation, automatic writing, that’s a really cool technique that i like to do. sometimes i just like to set aside time and space to be creative. so i’ll be like, okay, this this hour, today, i am going to devote to my guitar playing or to my songwriting. and so i will just be there for that time. and allow things to come out. and so again, i’m i’m doing things that are allowing my mind to get out of the way, i’m trying to kind of get my mind out of the way and be more intuitive about things and just kind of feel let things come up, not think about things, this is hard, it’s hard. you know, you can do some breathing, to kind of prepare yourself to do that, you know, but it’s about getting the mind out of the way in many cases, because you can always bring the mind back in if you’re editing if you’re trying to fix things or arrange things later. another thing i love to do is, i just love to go into nature, and go for a walk and be with the trees or go to the stream or, you know, go to a nice vista, there’s a great lookout point in my neighborhood, iroquois park in louisville, kentucky, it’s really beautiful. i love to go up there. and it’s really special place. and it’s just like whatever’s bothering me. or if i’m stressed out or anything like that. i can go to those places go to the river and just look out over big body of water. and it gives me peace. and it gives me a new perspective. and i’m able to do things differently. and tap into those parts of me that i want to tap into.
yeah, so these are, these are age old human practices that you’re talking about, you know, quieting the mind, inspiring the senses, connecting with nature, giving yourself a specific time to do your practice, or your journaling, or whatever it is. and we all know them. i think most of us we kind of know what to do, and we don’t always do it. so that’s, that’s one reason that we’re here is just to be a regular dose of inspiration. because i know that that’s something that helps me when i when i’m trying to be my best self when i’m trying to live in an inspired way is to surround myself with inspiring people, inspiring ideas, inspiring books, podcasts, radio shows, music, the whole nine yards. and so, you know, that’s the human journey, that we’re all on together, where we have to overcome the what the buddhists call the diluting passions, just the ways that we can get lost and whether it’s social media or gossip or drama, or
yeah, that’s, that’s something i’m definitely aware of. and especially with my children, and the amount of time they spend watching whatever youtube video of someone playing a video game or something like that, i i do that. also, when i’m on social media, you know, i’m just kind of edging out and stuff like that. but i really make it a point to do things that are real and get get my hands in the dirt, you know, and plant in the garden and get out in nature and just do real stuff. because it just connects us more to who we are doing the real things, doing the real things, connecting with real life. things, connects us to who we are. train men. do real stuff, do real stuff everyday.
well, i love that about you. and i think we’re just about out of time for the day. but i’m so grateful that we had this this introductory moment and we will be back actually, for future episodes because jani is going to be joining me as we interview some of kentucky’s and beyonds most amazing power couples, creative couples. and i just wanted to leave you with one more quotation from a really inspiring book that i read. called the big leap. it’s almost a classic in the entrepreneurial world. old, which i’ve learned a lot more about as a musician during a time of global pandemic, becoming an entrepreneur, but it’s this beautiful book. and two of the things that he talks about a lot are living in your zone of genius, you know, finding those things that you can do. and only you can do your unique gifts and sharing them with the world. and then finding the ways that you might be programmed or conditioned to not let yourself fully experience the joy of your life, your relationships, your work, abundance. and so he calls those upper limit problems. so that’s the book is called the big leap, and i will link to it in the show notes, i highly recommend reading it, because it’s very inspiring. and he’s a wonderful storyteller. he uses lots of anecdotes from his own life. but he also has this little, i don’t know if you could call it a mantra or a little saying that he says, he suggests using, and it says, i expand in abundance, success and love every day, as i inspire those around me to do the same. and i really love that because it keeps the focus on becoming our best selves, but also helping other people too. and for me, that’s the sweet spot. that’s what i really. that’s what i love to do. and i’ll tell you one more little funny story about when jani and i first started hanging out, we’d been we’d been dating about a year, and it was kind of when we were first starting to, like really realize that, oh, i really think that, that this is my person. we were at your dad’s farm. and we love humor. we love saturday night live, we’d love to watch funny movies. and we were we’re kind of like looking over this beautiful vista. and we had our arms around each other and, and you said something like, you know, i really love you a lot. i think i love you more than i’ve loved somebody. and it’s kind of a big deal. and you said it in your ron burgundy. which not everybody would, you know, maybe do for a romantic moment. but i loved it. it was really hilarious. it’s so that’s kind of our joke now like we just periodically say, oh, we’re kind of a big deal. or, you know, you’re kind of a big deal, baby. and we remind each other, you know that we are each our own unique voice in the world. and we’re here to do something special. and so that’s just, what i want to remind you guys of is that you’re kind of a big deal. so please remember to expand in abundance and success and love every day as you inspire those around you to do the same. one thing my spiritual teacher always says is be careful of what words that you place after the two words. i am. because those are some of the most powerful words in the english language i am. so if you go around saying oh, i’m sick of myself, oh, i’m so dumb. oh, i’m too fat. i am are powerful words. so this week, my challenge to you is be careful with your items. and try to place things after those items that you say that you really want to be that are in harmony with your deepest desire. and i’m just going to suggest and leave you with this idea that one thing that you can place after your i am is a kind of a big deal. all right, you guys, sending you love and thanks for listening. i will see you next week. thank you so much for joining me this week. if you want to make sure you never miss an episode. please hit subscribe wherever you’re listening now. or visit my website to get on my email firstname.lastname@example.org when you sign up, you’ll instantly receive my milton mama digital care package, a bundle of music and videos to help you wring every drop of yeehaw out of life. you’ll even find a dance lesson as well as my granny’s cornbread recipe with new goodies being added all the time. i’ll see you next thursday on the wet dreamers do podcast
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