Life Through a Different Lens featuring Zaakirah Nayyar Muhammad

When Zaakirah Nayyar was 9 months old she lost her right eye to non-hereditary Retinoblastoma, a rare childhood eye cancer. 

With a prosthetic eye and declining hearing from radiation treatments Zaakirah often felt like she didn’t fit in. But with encouragement and support of her family and her own innate confidence, Zaakirah never experienced her deafblindness as a disability. 

Through her life and also her work as a photographer, digital marketer, and author of the new memoir Seeing Life Through A Different Lens, Zaakirah strives to appreciate what she’s gone through while always moving ahead with humor and resilience.

Connect with Zaakirah:

Living Legacy Podcast




Seeing Life Through a Different Lens

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About Zaakirah:

Zaakirah Nayyar Muhammad is a Brand Cultivating Strategist, professional photographer, and digital marketer who helps small businesses with social media, branding, and growth. 

At 6 months old, a camera saved her life when a photo her mother took helped discover she had a rare childhood eye cancer tumor. At 9 months old, she was taken into surgery to have her right eye removed and her hearing slowly began to decline as she got older, but her other three senses kicked in and are functioning well.

At age five her mom gifted her with her first camera and by the time she attended technical high school, she was studying commercial photography. and she moved to Washington D.C. to expand her education in professional photography and videography.

She has just published her memoir Seeing Life Through a Different Lens that she hopes will inspire parents, guardians, and teenagers who are affected by childhood cancer or who are eye cancer survivors.

She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Alchemy of Loss featuring Abigail Carter

After her husband’s death in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, Abigail Carter’s grief cracked her wide open. During an intense period of national mourning she rejected public memorials and found a way to grieve and remember her husband in her own way.

As she turned to writing to make sense of what had happened to her and her family and adjusted to her new life as a widow she discovered that things that had been holding her back no longer did. In this episode, Abigail, an author, and a painter, as well as a widow and a mother, shares how she chose to live a more positive story of widowhood and what her life is like nearly twenty years after the loss of her husband.

“You’ve got 2 choices with anything that happens in your life—any kind of hardship, any kind of suffering…you can choose a negative route or a positive route. And the negative route tends to be really hard work. The positive route if you can get there is a little more like paddling a boat with the current instead of against it.” –Abigail Carter

To Connect with Abigail:

Check Out her Website

Episode 9- One In Four with Bea Spadacini

One in four adults in the U.S. has a criminal record and Bea Spadacini, a social justice advocate and writer, whose work in Bosnia and sub-Saharan Africa centered on international development and humanitarian relief created the One in Four podcast to help humanize and elevate the voices of those who have been recently released from prison. Every year when the roughly 650,000 incarcerated men and women return to their communities their successful reintegration depends not only on their need for food, housing, and work but vital mental health services and support to help them cope with trauma and depression so they can sustain a very difficult period of reentry.

In this episode Bea talks about her work documenting stories of drought, poverty, and human rights abuses globally, why she views every story shared with her as a gift, the moment she decided to adopt her daughter, and what working with the formerly incarcerated has taught her: That people are not defined by their worst mistakes.

8-27-06 Inside The Care Compound in Hargeisa Somaliland. The Project Director for The Hargeisa Care Office and Beatrice Spadacini from the Nairobi Regional Care Office say goodbye after a 4 day visit.

“One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys—compared to one of every 17 white boys. At the same time, women are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the United States.”

‪There are twice as many people sitting in local jails awaiting trial and presumed innocent than in the entire federal prison system. And each year, 650,000 men and women nationwide return from prison to their communities. They face nearly 50,000 federal, state, and local legal restrictions that make it difficult to reintegrate back into society.”


 ACLU Mass Incarceration

To connect with Bea:

One in Four Podcast



Episode 8- A Growing Need on Campus

The number of students on college campuses who don’t have enough to eat and who regularly experience food insecurities is rising. In this episode, Natalie Nations, a Masters of Public Health student and food justice advocate talks about her experience with the Food Shelf on her own campus and the nation’s increasing need for this free resource, that food insecurity falls on a huge spectrum and applies to anyone with a lack of safe, reliable access to adequate amounts of nutritious food, and how one of her most important roles as advocate is to create spaces for people who have experiences with food insecurity to share their stories where they might not have previously felt comfortable or felt safe to do so.  

You can listen to this episode here:

Natalie Nation is a Masters of Public Health student and dietetic intern at the University of Minnesota. She previously completed her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from St. Catherine University. Health promotion and education, particularly for children, teenagers, and young adults, is one of Natalie’s biggest interests. She enjoys producing her podcast and YouTube channel, Feed That Nation, as a space to discuss health, nutrition, and college life in a way that is both educational and entertaining. In her near non-existant spare time, Natalie enjoys cooking, photography, gardening, and going on adventures. She lives in the Minneapolis area with her husband, Paul, and their many, many houseplants.

For more about Natalie:

Episode 7- Survival in Our Bones

Alesha Brown, a child abuse survivor and motivational speaker doesn’t have a memory from childhood when she wasn’t being hurt or when she wasn’t walking around in fear. For years after her abuser died, she was drawn to a pressure cooker-life similar to the combat zone she had known at home and for years she would ask herself why she was unlovable. That all changed on a crucial day in young adulthood when she understood in her bones that what had happened to her was not who she was; that what she had experienced was profoundly damaging but she didn’t have to keep reliving her past. It was the day she decided to stop letting the words of her abuser control her life or dictate her actions; the day she understood the power to survive was in her hands. Alesha shares suggestions for reaching out to those who might be struggling, the signs of elevated sadness in others, and how to approach loved ones who might be in trouble.

Alesha Brown

Listen to this episode here or wherever you get podcasts:

Alesha Brown is a victim, survivor, leader, motivational speaker and author. She is the owner of Alesha Brown LLC, which offers author/writing consultation services to help people write their story and share their testimony. As a childhood abuse survivor, she is on a mission to reverse the damage of abuse by encouraging survivors to write their story in order to pay it forward and create a circle of healing.

For more on the work Alesha does:

For more on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs):

Resources for the prevention of child abuse:

Episode 6- Seeds from the Storm

The night Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico Monique Carradine heard wind ravaging her home, watched water filling her bedroom, and awoke to find a community devastated by damage far worse than she or her neighbors had ever imagined. Without running water and no power for six months the sick and poor became more vulnerable and Monique, a former radio and television personality from Chicago and a certified coach whose business relied on internet faltered. As she visited and offered aid to families on the island she found her experience helping women tap into the abundance in their life and her strong faith fortified and guided her. Hurricane Maria taught her that every storm in life has a beginning and an end. It taught her that in the midst of a storm is when people discover who they are but in the aftermath, they discover who they can become.

You can listen to this episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Monique Caradine delivering supplies to her community in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Monique’s podcast.
Damage from Hurricane Maria

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago Monique Caradine lives full-time on the island of Puerto Rico with her husband and son. She is a certified coach and founder of Overflow Enterprises who helps women fix their relationship with money. She is the host of the podcast Sisternomics available on all podcast platforms.

For more about Monique:

Episode 5- The Answer Inside

Medical student by day, women’s circle leader by night, Cassandra Wilder sought to discover the source of her body’s pain and found the answer in her past. The victim of physical abuse as a child and a dangerous partner as a young woman, Cassandra left her corporate job and traveled to Guatemala where for the first time she experienced the safety of a women’s circle. More and more as she healed herself and her practice grew, she saw how shame and trauma in her patients’ lives manifested as cysts, infertility, and debilitating cycles; more and more she discovered the power of sharing one’s story. In this episode, Cassandra helps identify symptoms of trauma in the body and resources for getting well.

For more on Cassandra:

Instagram: goddessceremony

You can listen to this episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 4- On the Run

Before he began his 6-month walk across the United States, Tom Griffen waded into the Pacific Ocean, hugged his friends, and said goodbye to his girlfriend of 7 years. Tom age 45 and a former athlete and ultramarathoner, had finally decided to fulfill his decades-long dream of crossing America on foot. But what he thought would be a solitary 3,300-mile walk soon became a journey of self-discovery as a steady stream of strangers offered Tom help and compassion and Tom, who had never felt able to truly trust others and kept people at arms-length began to let down his guard. He discovered that the act of accepting offerings from these “roadside saints” was what helped him finally begin to feel comfortable in his own skin; he discovered kindness can’t be stopped.

For more on Tom and photos of his walk visit:

You can listen to this episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 3- Everybody Knew

When Christine McLean left home as a teenager to escape her abusive father she didn’t think she’d ever look back. The domestic violence she experienced as a child left her with trauma, anxiety, an eating disorder, and a dangerous relationship with alcohol which plagued her for years. Now sober and with a family of her own, Christine reflects on the aftermath of childhood pain, the decision she made to allow her father back into her life, and how she found it possible to still deeply love the person who hurt her the most.

Christine McLean with her father and mother.
Christine McLean and her father on the last night of his life.

You can listen to this episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

For more on Christine McLean you can visit:

Her blog:

Her Instagram: detroitalabama

Episode 2- Different this Time

Addiction ran rampant in author Jason Allen’s family and disrupted every aspect of his life growing up working-class poor in a small, Long Island town. Against the backdrop of lush estates in the Hamptons, Jason and his friends worked long hours and partied hard every night until he too fell victim to serious alcohol addiction. His total self-destruction averted only by the close bond he shared with his mother and younger brother, he clung to his desire to make it off the Island and become who felt he was meant to be. Jason talks about the loss of his father to alcoholism, his new novel The East End, and how writing and sobriety saved him.

Jason Allen

Listen to this episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

For more on Jason Allen visit:
Instagram: eastendauthor
Twitter: @EathanJason

Episode 1- A Living Person Among the Dead

Raised by Protestant Evangelical Conservative Christian Missionary parents Paul Boardman and his four siblings endured regular corporol punishment during their childhood in Tokyo at the hands of their father, a leader in their missionary community. From their earliest years and into young adulthood, he and his siblings faced dire consequences for misbehavior. As they grappled with the struggle to “be good” in the eyes of their father and church their shared trauma created an unbreakable bond between them. Paul, now a funeral celebrant, talks about his experience creating eulogies for the unchurched, the way in which grief stories are love stories, and how leaving the church made him feel more Christian.

Paul as a boy eating soba with his father in Japan where his family did missionary work for most of his childhood.
Paul in his role as Funeral Celebrant.

Listen to this episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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