From Supermodel To Stroke Awareness Advocate with Claudia Mason

AIH 13 | Stroke Awareness

 

After a life-threatening health crisis that Claudia overcame, she fully understands that at any moment you can flip the script of your life. Either you choose to be a victim of circumstance or you choose to rise and be in control of the path to success in your life. She shares how to build your super life by igniting your inner life with tools that help you grow or regain your confidence and enable you to thrive.

 

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From Supermodel To Stroke Awareness Advocate with Claudia Mason

I love this show because we get to meet so many extraordinary people from all over the world. We’re having a chance to meet someone who’s on the cover of Cosmopolitan and all the magazine, a supermodel, actress, a well-known celebrity and she had a stroke. Her story is wow. She’s hysterical. The girl is funnier than anything I’ve ever met yet. Claudia Mason to me is probably one of the apexes of what you do post-traumatic injuries or experiences and how you get back.

What I took away from talking to her and listening to her was her amazing vibrant energy and also her down to earth perspective on life. What she says is, “Part of your spiritual life is laughing.” That sounds so simple, but many people forget the simple joy of laughing and how powerful that can transform your day-to-day life.

She meditates, she’s all in the TM, which you know much more than I will ever understand that. She’s healing herself by going inside and healing, which lit me up. I’m like, “Here we go again.” These signs are calling me going, “What are we really doing?” She’s found her happiness. She’s found her will to live again after her stroke, which I’m learning to do it. She validates everything I’m doing. She validated why we’re even doing the show.

Why is that?

We want to give back and stand for those who can’t stand for themselves.

In the process, we’re going to learn a whole bunch. I can’t wait to keep bringing you guys along for this ride as we learn from the amazing human beings all across the world, who can inspire us to keep showing up, keep pushing our limits and finding a deeper understanding of who we are. She started her modeling career when she was thirteen.

She was covers of magazines and covers of billboards. She was or probably as big as Cindy or Gisele or any of these out there, Stephanie Seymour. She got on, wrapped with us for an hour about life. Thank you, Taylor, for showing up with me, crazy as I am of being here because we are going to make a difference with this show. I believe that. I’m inspired.

Welcome to the show, Claudia. How are you doing?

I’m wonderful. Thank you. How are you?

I’m excellent. Seany, how are you doing?

I’m excited because we have on the show a special model who is a celebrity all around the world.

Claudia, why don’t you tell us in your own words who you are, what do people need to know about you?

Thank you for that nice intro. I’ve been very blessed with a super-model career that’s taking me around the globe. It’s very extraordinary when it happens to a young person. It’s very similar to the sports world, any of the entertainment industries including modelling and sports are the same in the sense of performing arts the least. In the sense that you’re usually discovered. If kids are not brought in by their parents or guardians, you’re usually scouted out. I’m an author of a book.

What’s the book called?

AIH 13 | Stroke Awareness
Finding the Supermodel in You: The Insider’s Guide to Teen Modeling

Finding the Supermodel in You and it’s available on Amazon. It’s a guide for young people and their parents, would-be models, on how to avoid the potential pitfall to the industry. There are plenty of pitfalls in any of the entertainment industries as we all know. It’s self-confidence, self-worth, and self-respect, how do you grow that? I speak for my expertise in my career especially what I went through as a supermodel. It’s for anyone but it’s definitely geared towards a younger audience and their parents. Anyway, plucked from obscurity and then into the limelight and that’s a lot for a young person. That definitely has the obvious highs of traveling and the money you’re making and the people you’re meeting and working with, and all of those great opportunities. The downside is if you’re fifteen, sixteen or sometimes younger, you’re suddenly thrown into working with adults who are mostly over 25. They’re treating you as an adult, which is not easy.

How old were you at the time when you first got scouted?

I got scouted when I was thirteen and started when I was fourteen. I was super young. Unfortunately, the laws have changed. First of all, my parents were born and raised in Manhattan. No disrespect to other parents out there from other states or countries, but they were sophisticated New York City parents to a certain extent. They stick to the academic. They have no interest in me getting the GED and which is what the agency wanted me to do at the time. Like athletes, I always like to use that comparison because they’re such parallel industries, the business wants to grab you because they’re making a lot of money off of you right away. They’re not interested in your education. We understand that as adults. Kids need to be guided by hopefully parents or guardians to not just go, “I’m going to throw my high school.” No, finish high school. You can go like I did to a professional children’s school. There are a few in Manhattan that got me into great colleges but then I decided not to go to college because I had quieted the career down for the years of high school.

Now, if I was really going to have it, meaning the modeling career, it needed to happen or the boat would have left. The entertainment industry does not wait too long because there are thousands of others as we all know that are knocking on the door, “Me next.” I was able to still do great work around high school but I had to in school as per my parents. They said, “You have to get into college,” as one requirement, “You don’t have to go if you are actually working at a certain level,” which I had been doing from the start. I’m a big believer in staying in school until eighteen and don’t go to college at eighteen if you are actually working in a big way, not in McDonald’s, with all due respect to McDonald’s.

I’m from LA and everyone’s a model. You’re on the cover of what magazines?

Vogues, Elle, Cosmopolitan, all of the big ones.

You had met Tom’s wife, Gisele, right?

Yes, of course. That is a reality. I was very lucky. I didn’t have a sense of what was going on because at that age, I was also a kid, you have to realize. I wanted to be a ballet dancer. All I cared about was being a ballet dancer with New York City Ballet, one of the best in the world. Being in Manhattan, I got into the best school in the city and one in the world, which is called The School of American Ballet. I was dancing from a very young age, hardcore training, which athletes again has a very similar trajectory. When this scout came up to me, I had braces in my teeth, I had a back brace because I had scoliosis. I looked like a 5’10” thirteen-year-old geek if there ever was one, baggy clothes to hide the body brace. It was horrible. Then the scout comes to me, “You have to have your parents call us because you should be a model.” My mother who had done some modeling but very little in her day was like, “What?” They never thought I was unattractive mind you but she was like, “What?” It makes me laugh to this day.

If your look is not in, you’re not going to have a career. Click To Tweet

Why does someone do very well as you pointed in the covers I had? It’s because there are so many beautiful boys and girls. If you’re photogenic, some people who are gorgeous in person don’t photograph very well. There’s nothing you can do about that. If your look is of the time, what is in the Zeitgeist? Why do we suddenly want people who look a little more Brazilian? That’s cool. They look a little more Russian, now the Swedes. It’s also whatever look one is and if they can perform. I’m not belittling what happened to me or saying I have nothing to do with it. If my look and this goes for any Gisele, Cindy Crawford, any of them, and Cindy has said this many times, “If your look is not in, you’re not going to have a career.” It’s one of these things you can’t control, so you have to perform well and you have to be photogenic. There you go, I was very lucky.

I’m curious to hear as such a young girl getting thrust into a crazy competitive industry, what was going through your mind at that moment? Were you excited or were you nervous? What was happening?

I was totally thrilled on one hand because I always love to perform as a little girl. That’s why I eventually went into acting, which I’m happily not pursuing now, although I loved it. Thrilled because there was always a performer in me, the dancer and the actor, so as the makeup. The hair, it’s like every girl’s little dream. The best makeup artists are putting makeup on you. Then the top of the world’s clothing and the glamor of the shoots. Then I get to perform in front of all these people watching me, I love that because that was in my personality. The downside of it, I wasn’t even aware as the checks were coming in and I never had a problem with my mother in that, she was always very clean and clear and I have my own savings account. There were no problems you hear of these mothers who are stealing from their entertainment kids. There was none of that.

For me, as much as that was fun, the other side was I did not want to be with adults. I was at fifteen wanting to hang out with fifteen-year-olds. I know it sounds crazy. I had no interest. I love my friends at school. I love my ballet class. Ballet was a whole world that I didn’t want to give up. It didn’t love me as much as I loved it. I was not built for ballet and eventually the top school had to let me go. It was not in the stars, but I wanted nothing else. That kept me in a world of ballet, of discipline, of homework, of hanging out with the friends and little boyfriends, all the normal stuff but the ballet, I was so much more interested. Your question about how did that feel?

As glamorous and fun as the performing and makeup and hair side was, I really didn’t enjoy. At the time, there are more rules and regulations. Children are protected more now. There were joints being passed around from adults to me that should not have been. I also wasn’t interested in that at that time. I had no problems with that stuff because I just wasn’t interested in drugs honestly. I thought everyone is. We think, “Everyone else has to do drugs,” and all that BS of what’s cool and what’s not. I addressed it in my book. That shouldn’t have happened.

To me it was a turnoff. I was like, “I don’t want to be these old people at 25, 30, and 40 years old.” I didn’t think that was cool. For me, ballet was cool. When I saw my face on a magazine cover or in a magazine or on a commercial, it was really absolutely thrilling. Also, I could still answer the question by saying it was very difficult to then go home and do homework. It was very difficult to go into school the next day, even though it was professional children’s school and there were a lot of working actors, opera singers, ballet dancers, and classical musicians besides models. It was an odd situation with other friends who are not working kids because they didn’t know what to do with me and then the jealousy. It’s very complex. I don’t care how well you’re doing under eighteen, you keep yourself in school whether you have to do part-time or not. That’s very important to me.

As a side note here, my daughter is in ballet. She’s already been looked at by colleges and by schools on the East Coast, we’re in Los Angeles. She’s a straight A student, she loves her school. Let me tell you something, the amount of work and energy it takes for us as parents to go through it is twenty hours a week at twelve years old for ballet. She does the jazz, she does the hip-hop but she loves it. I’m like, “Please finish this out because I want to see a scholarship out of all this. Let’s get some return on your investment.” You’re so right if you stay in school and if you want to pursue your dreams, it’s going to happen.

Ballet gave me great discipline. I always say that, thank God for it. I didn’t become the ballet dancer I wanted, but that’s okay. My body wasn’t built for it and that was crushing as a kid around twelve I realized, but it also makes you stronger.

My daughter’s core is outstanding with what she can do with her body and the stretching. Tell me what happened at 39 that changed everything? Walk us through that.

Here I am these years later and I had lived in LA doing some acting and producing and moved back to New York and was much happier on the East Coast. I was back home six months and I took a jazz class. I kept up dance classes throughout my life postage twelve but never did it professionally, but it was something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. This one jazz class that night, the choreography had a lot of head moves, which I’ve said before it’s like when we see Beyoncé throwing her head around because everyone knows what that image is. It’s a jazz. You move your head around and hair flip.

It’s the classic hair whip or am I wrong?

AIH 13 | Stroke Awareness
Stroke Awareness: Stroke is nothing that anyone wants to ever go through.

 

You’re right. There’s more of a classical term because I’m a little bit of a dance snob.

What’s the classic term for it then?

I don’t know. I did that move a few nights as the choreography, called for that night. I went home on eventful night sleep. Everything is fine. I was not aware of anything. The next morning I wake up, I had an appointment at Midtown Manhattan, and I had the worst headache of my life as I got into this building in New York City. My vision was in and out and I saw weird colors. There was a part of me if I really think back to that moment, that wasn’t scared, which is amazing because first of all, I have no family history of stroke. Stroke was the last thing on my mind. I had been totally healthy. I never had a problem and it was soothing. I want the audience to hear this in the right way. This is nothing that anyone wants to ever go through. For some reason because I didn’t know what was going on, there are these colors that were going. It was the brain malfunctioning.

Our brain is the biggest computer machine out there, the most beautiful, amazing thing. When I think about what that was and was told the colors because there was a problem. The vision was off for that moment and I’m seeing these colors. I just went with it too long though, I don’t remember how many minutes I was sitting there. A stranger came up to me realizing there was a problem because the headache that I had, it wasn’t a migraine. It felt like it led to this visual field issues. She helped me use my phone. I couldn’t see my phone. I called my father. She told me to go call an ambulance. I didn’t listen to her. By the time my father came to pick me up, most of my vision had come back, but I still had the size of the blind spot off to the left side of my visual field looking out when I look out. We, unfortunately, did not go to the hospital right away. I crashed in my dad’s couch, woke up and I said, “Let’s go to ER. I still had this blind spot,” and it’s however many hours later.

You missed the time to get the clot buster. You missed to get the shot, it’s three hours.

For those of us who aren’t aware, what is the clot-buster?

What exactly happens is the clots go up to the brain and prevent oxygen and the blood flow going to the brain which causes a stroke. They can actually inject the clot buster. I don’t know the technical name of it in the ER, which breaks up the clots so the flow goes back perfectly. If you don’t get to that, those clots within three hours, all the signs of the stroke are going to happen. Like for me, I’m paralyzed on the left side and you lose your vision, you can lose your hair and you can lose everything. Your whole body can split in half within seconds.

You have to catch it very early or it’s a no go?

Exactly. That’s also why I’m a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association now because when you learned that afterward, I’m sure, Sean, you went through your own journey with this. I was so angry that there wasn’t information out there that myself, my parents, all of us are educated as you guys are people. I’m like, “What? How do I not know? How was this not out there? How are the signs not out there more? How are the facts not out there more that one in five people are dying?” It’s the fifth cause of death in the United States. There are so many more facts as we know more of them now so that when the stranger told me, “I think you should call an ambulance,” I didn’t listen to her.

It’s every 45 seconds that someone’s having a stroke and it’s crazy.

It’s so important to get this information out there so people don’t do what I did in that moment. That’s what one of my missions in life is to just spread word, not to put the fear of God in anyone, not to stop dancing, not to stop skiing. There was a nine-year-old boy in the hospital who had the same thing as I did the week that I spent in the hospital. A nine-year-old boy from a skiing accident. To finish my story, we get to the hospital, CAT scan, MRI, a group of doctors come in, “What have you been doing the last 24 hours? Find all this information out.” They said, “You’ve had a stroke. We firmly believe it’s from that move that you kept doing in the dance class last night. It’s a left vertebral arterial dissection aka ischemic stroke. It’s also called the homonymous hemianopsia, an infarct to the occipital lobe. The occipital lobe of the brain controls our vision.” That was the only part of my brain that was affected. By the grace of God, my vision came back, but I still have a blind spot.

There is no separateness, we're all one. Click To Tweet

What area of the brain is that in layman’s term? Is it front, back, left side?

It’s back. I have the occipital lobe infarct. The back of the head to the right is where the part of the brain that was affected in my situation. I believe that it’s healing. The brain is the slowest organ to heal as we know, and even though this happened a number of years ago, there has been some improvement. I still have the blind spot but there’s been some improvement in terms of it shrinking since then. We can talk about if you’re interested in the alternative therapies that I’ve come across. You have to have a spirit of and I’ve always had that and I was raised with a very spiritual mother and very advanced, way ahead of her time with healing. She had her own health crisis, nothing to do with this when she was a young woman. I was raised on healthy foods, spirituality, exercise, and don’t listen to doctors only. Thank God I had that in me and as much as we need Western medicine obviously and I’m not banging them and neurologists are very important. Thank God for my neurologist.

There’s also the alternative side and there’s a lot of stuff the Western medicine doesn’t address. In China, as you guys may have heard, when people have strokes, they immediately give them acupuncture. I don’t know if they have that drug in China, I’m sure they do, the one that we were referring to, but they certainly treat them immediately with acupuncture and that greatly reduces the symptoms. We don’t do that here. We do it if you know that you should do it and there are plenty of people in this great country of ours who do that. Do most of our Western doctors and our great neurologists and heads of stroke centers, will they tell you that?

No, not at all. In China, they actually have a floor in the hospital that dedicates only to stroke recovery and exactly what you said. They do acupuncture, Chinese herbs, deep tissue massage. They do everything almost that we don’t do over here because we’re afraid of it.

It’s a money thing as we know.

What happened to your weak side? Were you paralyzed at all on the weak side? Were you able to walk? Were you able to use your hand?

Yes. I was only affected with a partial visual field deficit. No cognitive or muscular fault whatsoever for me. I was lucky with that absolutely. I was also lucky that most of my vision came back. Let’s not forget, I couldn’t see. Thank you, God, that you didn’t decide, “This is her time to remove her sight for whatever.” I want to get sick when I think of that. I know, Sean, you have gone through your own journey with what happened to you. I thank God that my sight mostly came back. I have a sizable blind spot. I’d been living with it since then that falls off to the left side. If I can’t see, I make a joke of it. I think spiritually, as you know Sean, as we all know, in order to heal, you have got to have in my opinion some spiritual life, which also includes laughing. I have a blind spot, I have bumped into people and I laugh.

A funny story on that note, a good friend of mine who was my mentor who had a stroke, he has the blind spot, the same thing as me on his right side and he’s taking his girlfriend at the time to the opera. He’d gotten out of the hospital. He’s walking down the aisle and his weak hand is bumping heads on the aisle of all these people. He looks down at his hand and there’s a toupee attached to his hand. He literally removed some guy’s hair off his head and the opera’s starting. His girlfriend and he were newly dating and everything else, they’re not married with kids. I bumped people. I feel like the pinball machine. We bump in everything all the time and that’s okay. We’re human.

Sometimes I hide on Sean’s left side.

That’s a great story like Carol Burnett and Robin Williams’ comedy.

I want to do a comedy and do a standup and bag on stroked people because of what we go through. It’s funny because we need humor, we need to laugh all the time.

AIH 13 | Stroke Awareness
Stroke Awareness: We bump into everything all the time and that’s okay; we’re human.

 

That’s part of healing. I think what helped me too I had both my parents, especially my mom was with me those six days at the hospital and she just let me be where I was. The community is so important, your loving family and friends to help you heal, but I was very scared and terrified because of the career I had to be talking about this when I got out of the hospital, to let anyone know, “They’re going to think of me as handicapped.” Even though looking at me, there’s nothing that’s changed. It’s again out of the computer of my brain looking out to the world, which is the desktop let’s say. I was terrified because of my career and how I was used to being told that, “You have to be perfect.” The downside of this crazy modeling or acting industry is it’s so difficult especially for women.

What happened is interestingly enough, I get out of the hospital and I immediately had a modeling job, a play reading. I was still acting then. It’s seen in an indie film and I did them all within a few weeks and no one had any idea. I wish that I had been okay then to talk about it because it would have made me much calmer. I was so nervous doing all these jobs because I kept thinking someone’s going to see that I’m missing some part of my vision. No one could tell anything. To me it was like my angels reassuring me, “Would you relax already? You had a big thing, you should talk about it and you can still do what you’re doing.” I have to jump on that though and say in a lot of ways in the hospital, I realized that there were other things I want to be doing. The track that I was on was not it for me. I really believe that I look at my stroke that way symbolically if you will.

I’m still modeling, not really acting. I’m a speaker now that is more of a motivational, inspirational speaker and I love that. My book launched that part of my career. I just want to use myself and use this experience of what happened to me to help others overcome whatever challenge they have. That’s my goal and certain career goal right now because it’s crazy when you go through something like this as you know, Sean. The whole way that I was living my life. Modeling doesn’t last forever and that was not of interest to me even if it could last forever. Acting wasn’t satisfying enough, it wasn’t happening enough to keep at it in that way as beautiful as a craft. I look at it as a blessing. It woke me up to more of what I’m supposed to be doing here. Then you realize that it’s a freaking miracle that we’re alive, all of us. A healthy baby being born is a miracle. Thank God I survived that and now what can I do?

I got a question for you. If you were to talk to somebody who had a stroke in the hospital, what are the first things you’re going to tell that person?

To breathe.

I’m starting a whole Stroke Hacker online course, people look at me and go, “You’re going to a chiropractor?” I put my care in the chiropractors’ hands over an MD, I got both. I want them to put their hands on me and adjust my spine and I feel better. I work on my gait. What do you deal in that sense? What do you tell these people?

First of all, to be still and probably lay down or sit up or whatever they are physically allowed to do and to listen to what their inner voice is trying to tell them. To grieve if they need to, to laugh if they need to. There’s nothing to do immediately except to breathe. If you need to wail and hit a pillow, then please wail out loud and hit a pillow. I think the human body under such duress like that has got to be able to express itself without hurting others obviously or themselves anymore. To express itself the best it can with the shock of what just happened. They’re going to have doctors and nurses coming at them and needles and God knows what and stuff to take. You have to be able to express yourself because that’s at the beginning of the healing process. It’s the first thing I would say, then there are tons of things from there but that’s the first thing.

I love that you start there and I absolutely love that you mentioned that your spiritual life needs laughter. I’m curious to hear your perspective on what’s one way that you help yourself or help others find laughter in those types of situations? It can be very hard to find that little spark of joy when it seems like life fell away.

I did not laugh in the hospital and I meant if someone feels like laughing if they’ve just had a stroke, laugh. I definitely was the one to cry more and be silent and hold my mom’s hand for as long as I could. I have a strong meditation practice, which is Transcendental Meditation, TM. It’s gotten much more popular in the last few years, you might have heard of it. Are you a TM-er too?

I’ve never done the TM practice. Transcendental Meditation is a meditation practice where you take a course and you’re given a mantra that’s specific to you and you don’t share it with anyone. I’ve not personally done that but I am a big advocate of meditation in general. It’s not one that I’ve gone into specifically yet.

I think that there are many modalities as we all know. Whatever works for the person is the way to go. I used to have another technique but it didn’t work for me. I found TM and I love it. It rocks my world. TM has been known to help certain stroke patients. It’s one of the meditations that can actually help your brain heal. Unfortunately, I can’t remember to tell you why and how exactly what’s happening in the brain right now. I really love TM. I understood the importance of laughter since I was a kid. That’s partially to do with the artistic performer in me, if you will, and also certainly from tons of acting classes and acting jobs and all of that. The greatest thing about going down a road of being an artist in whatever capacity, is you have to go inside of yourself and discover different parts of yourself and what makes you tick and what makes you feel this and that. You realize if you do all that or if you’re thinking about that, what makes you laugh and then how does laughing affect you? I feel great. I’m saying things that I think most people know that laughing is great.

There are always possibilities. Go after them instead of just seeing the glass as half-full and not half-empty. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we forget about the more obvious things in our life that bring us joy, such as simply laughing. There’s even a whole yoga practice that’s called Laughing Yoga where you pretend to laugh but it has the same psychological and emotional benefits as if you were actually laughing.

I think it’s a spiritual practice that you’re winning the lottery, your body will actually believe it. It will not know that you’re not. That’s how a lot of people heal is through mind over matter and if you want to say that’s a positive affirmation or a spiritual outlook, “I am well.” I’m a big believer in that, “I am well. My brain is whole and healed right now,” and to bring myself some joy around that even if I don’t believe it in that moment or if it’s hard to get there just to keep on going that way. That’s a spiritual practice. I was raised that way.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Marianne Williamson, the great author, and inspirational speaker. Marianne Williamson has made her career basically by speaking about Dr. Helen Schucman’s A Course in Miracles, which is one of the most beautiful texts ever written. It’s a spiritual practice. It’s not a Christian or Jewish or Muslim, it’s a spiritual practice, which the best of all religions have that everyone can relate to. The best of ourselves. I get very jazzed on that stuff and that helps me heal, I believe. It makes me smile, makes me cry, makes me laugh, and makes me feel really good. I think we have to feel good.

I’m inspired. This is awesome. You rock me because we all play the victim and we all had the down days. I’m the king of victim. What you said got me out of that funk and listening to you, it’s beautiful. Thank you on that.

Claudia, you said you grew up with this spiritual practice. Was it always with you or was there an a-ha moment sometime in your life where you said, “I finally get it?” I’m speaking from experience here. I’ve been involved in so many practices throughout my life but it’s oftentimes years after I learned about something that I actually go, “I get it.”

My mom dealt with depression in a hardcore way when I was a kid and that’s not easy for kids who grow up with a single parent in the house who’s depressed. There was a lot of heaviness around, but she always had spiritual practices, thank God for her and for me that she fought against as hard as she could with her battles with depression. When I was a kid, with my mom’s help and whoever we all are individually, apart from our parents, I just felt joy around the arts certainly. I don’t know if I’ve had an a-ha. I must have had an a-ha moment post my age of 21 probably. The first spirit technique I did as a meditative technique was around 21.

I can’t think of one a-ha moment, but I remember the joy of my mom when she wasn’t down and we had the best times. Then she knew some Buddhist monk. She’d invite over these interesting Buddhist monks and we prayed and it was like, “This is so much fun.” Maybe the fun came there. I don’t think it was an a-ha moment. I don’t know if you can say I was too young. I guess little kids have a-ha moments. I wouldn’t say I necessarily had it then. It was just that joyous feeling when my mom wasn’t down. When you have a parent around you who’s down and it wasn’t because of drugs. She was never on drugs or alcohol, but I could see that whatever she was doing made a difference. I don’t know if that answers your question.

It totally answers my question. I’m always curious on how people come to terms with some of these esoteric practices because you can’t touch them, you can’t feel them and you can’t see them. I’m actually curious to hear your perspective on what do you say to the doubters and the skeptics out there? How do you bridge the gap to getting them more interested in these spiritual practices?

What I tell the doubters is to try other ways. If you don’t go inside, it’s all where it’s at. There is no separateness, we’re all one. It’s all within us. What I would tell them is, “If you don’t believe me, go and do other things. Good luck and maybe you will find it,” because I’m not God. I’m no one’s Higher Power. I have my own Higher Power. We all have our own Higher Power. You do what you need to do, I don’t judge. I really believe it’s got to go inside. I would tell them, “Try everything else and see if it doesn’t work, maybe try this.” I can’t think of anything else. That is the upside to this thing that as Sean and I know we wish on absolutely no one. I don’t know if you do, Sean, I want to ask you, but I just want to say I see mine as a blessing because it woke me up to certain things.

Mine was eight years ago and I still have issues with it. I’m still working through all my stuff because my left arm is still very weak and I have a lot of pain, which causes the depression and I’m working through it. Taylor has been helping me and guiding me through the meditation. That M word to me is hard because I’ve never been able to shut down my brain. I’m learning to do it. He is showing me the breath work, he is showing me other ways. If I had to go inside to find my own healing, there’s nothing that I can do. We talked about stem cell. We talked about chiropractic. We talked about plant-based medicine, I’ve got to go inside and find my own happiness.

I’m going to help Sean in this moment answer the question, Claudia. I’ve asked this to him before, “What was the gift?” Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember you saying it taught you compassion.

AIH 13 | Stroke Awareness
Stroke Awareness: The greatest thing about going down a road of being an artist is you have to go inside of yourself and discover different parts of yourself and what makes you tick.

 

Humility and had I not had my stroke, Taylor, we probably would never meet. We wouldn’t be doing this podcast. I didn’t want to be immobile. I wanted to walk again and they told me I wasn’t going to walk. I have two young daughters at the time who I get a chance to see them grow.

Compassion and humility are what you gained from that. I’m reminding myself of what you said. I was envisioning your little girls. It’s so beautiful. What I would add to that is forgiveness of myself. I was very hard on myself and I still am, and getting upset, “Why did this happen or why didn’t that happen? Why didn’t I make another choice? How did I let this situation?” Not that we can all relate to that to a certain extent, but I really was too much on myself, too hard on myself and I’ve got to forgive myself, please. That just came up right now while I was listening to you.

What do you do when you’re speaking in front of an audience for the stroke foundation and you have this whole side of you? I know the foundation, some of them out there are very restricted on what they can and cannot say. What do you do when you’re on stage for the stroke foundation and talking about this?

The American Stroke Association, it’s been challenging because of what you said. They give you talking points and they don’t want you to go off. I haven’t done something for them for a while. It’s just such a big organization. Too many cooks in the kitchen and that’s the downside of it, although I think it’s great that they exist. That’s why I enjoy doing my own stuff that’s not always associated with them and speaking about the art of overcoming any challenge you have and here’s my story and here’s what I’ve learned from kind of thing. I’d rather be able to put my own spin on it.

I did something in Las Vegas for a few years back for them for a segment. They’re a part of the American Heart Association. This is more of American Heart Association group and there were just certain things I needed to say and I keep to the script and so you do. If that’s what that is, at least I’m helping. I’m still helping, I may not be exactly expressing everything the way I want to, but it’s not always about me and my expression. As long as I’m getting some information out and helping people with the information that I have, then that’s okay.

Give them what they want because it’s coming from the heart and it’s coming from a place of giving. If they ever wanted to learn more, they can always find you.

AIH 13 | Stroke Awareness
Stroke Awareness: As long as you’re getting some information out and helping people with the information that you have, then that’s okay.

 

It’s not as if I’m giving some information that’s negative or bad or misleading. It’s just not exactly the whole pie of how I would like to present it for sure. It still has its place and it’s still helpful.

How can people find you? I know that you said you speak. Where do you speak and then who do you speak to?

I speak to different audiences, it depends. I’m in negotiations now with a few different companies. I will post on my website and I’ll give you my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter handles. I’d post it on my website and I’m going to be co-leading a retreat, a small retreat in Shelter Island, New York with a yoga teacher actually coming up in April. We’re planning that. I put that stuff and I will be putting it more on my website, ClaudiaMason.com.

Then your Facebook, Instagram how can they find you there? Let’s plug you because you have a book out.

Facebook is @TheClaudiaMason and then Instagram and Twitter are the same, which is @ClaudiaMason1. My book is available for purchase on Amazon called Finding the Supermodel in You. I will just say it’s extraordinary for grown men. This is when I was still terrified of telling the world about my stroke. I came out with my stroke on the Today Show in 2014, but the book was published in 2016. The book has also nothing to do with the stroke because that’s not what my agent and I had decided with writing at that time, but it has great life lessons.

If you wake up every day and can still move and do things, no matter what has happened to you, you're still very lucky. Click To Tweet

Claudia, what’s your inspiration?

Life and going after it. What is my biggest inspiration? It’s life. It’s the fact that you wake up every day and we can still move and do things no matter what has happened to us. We’re very lucky. You have to go and even if someone is not able to move that much. My biggest inspiration would be life and the fact that there are always possibilities, if I go after them instead of just seeing the glass as half-full and not half-empty.

Claudia, thank you so much for coming and sharing your time.

Thank you, you’re amazing.

We love you. I don’t know you all that well yet but I love you. Thank you so much and I want to give a last shout out to Jill Bolte Taylor for putting us together because she is my hero. I don’t know her as well as you but I’ve watched her and studied her and she’s extraordinary as well.

Thank you.

Claudia, thank you.

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About Claudia Mason

AIH 13 | Stroke AwarenessClaudia’s stellar resume includes working with designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Armani, Marc Jacobs, and Calvin Klein. She was featured on many fashion magazine covers, including Vogue, W, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and numerous foreign publications. She starred in prestigious fashion campaigns for Versace, Anne Klein, Fendi, among others. She worked with the greatest fashion photographers from the late Richard Avedon to Patrick DeMarchelier, Steven Meisel and Mario Testino, to name a few.

Claudia has also produced and performed in theatre to critical acclaim and has performed as well in film and television.

The author of Finding the Supermodel in You, The Insider’s Guide to Teen Modeling (Skyhorse Publishing), Claudia’s guidance is helpful for anyone, regardless of age or career path.

All this experience plus that of being a stroke survivor has given her tremendous insight into establishing and sustaining life’s goals through all manner of adversity.

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