Friday, November 30, 2018

Kathleen Brandt on TLC New Genealogy Show


TLC aired a new genealogy show (pilot) Monday, 26 Nov 2018. The pilot "I Should Have Known," which is much more than a genealogy show, aired at 11:00pm EST Monday; and at 3:00AM EST Tuesday, 27 Nov. 2018. It can now be seen from your provider online.

Kathleen Brandt, of a3Genealogy (KCMO), is an International Professional Genealogist, Licensed Private Investigator, and a host of the show. Although she is an actress, this is a reality based show. She has joined others to help "Lindsay" and Francisco wade through their "new life secrets."

Here is what TLC gives us:

           I Should Have Known
Lindsey [sic] and Francisco's lives get turned upside down when they learn a life altering secret that makes them question who they even are?  Now struggling with the fact they were lied to their entire lives, they each embark on a mission to uncover the truth.  
We'd love your feedback on the show. Be sure to follow Kathleen Brandt on Facebook and Instagram.

Kathleen Brandt

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

To Act Is To Do - Richard Alan Nichols

Richard Alan Nichols: Interview 

Most of you know that I am an actress, always in training, but the training is beginning to pay off. So far in addition to my normal TV appearances as a genealogist, DNA, PI expert, I have ventured into commercial acting and even have completed a couple of stage readings.

Just last night I was the genealogy researcher and private investigator for a TLC Premier, "I Should Have Known" that aired 26 Nov 2018. Truly I didn't even think that acting skills would be beneficial in a show that was so factual and organic or in my keynote speaking events. Of course with practice we'll always see improvement in our camera work and I have seen a lot of improvement since 2011 when I first appeared on TV as a genealogist and private investigator.  But, where practice is a teacher, through acting classes, we learn why and how to improve and develop these needed acting skills with intention.

Since the filming of that TLC episode I have been studying under Richard Alan Nichols at the Actor's-Craft Studio in KCMO. "Alan" is the author of To Act Is to Do.  Here is a fabulous piece on him under the direction of John Brandt, instructor and students of the Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) - Multimedia and Video Production department. This interview captures Alan and his class.  This particular class is a Scene Study / Monologue class using the Uta Hagen Method.

Enjoy Alan and the Actor's-Craft Studio video. If you are in the Kansas City area, give Alan a call and come join us at the Actor's-Craft Studio. Or just pick up the book, To Act Is To Do from Amazon!

Kathleen Brandt
Keynote Speaker and Actress

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

PI Meets DNA-Forensic, Genetic Genealogist

On TV and in Real Life
My last casting interview was easy: 

2011 with Tim Mcgraw, NBC (now on TLC)
Q: Are you an actress?  
A: Yes

Q: Have you taken acting classes
A: Yes, and extensively, lately

Q: Do you have TV appearance experience
A: Yes, since 2011. (Of course I already sent my resume).

Asia Business News_ Ethics and Value of Genetic DNA Tests for Genealogy
Q: Do you work with DNA analysis?
A: Yes, daily.

Q: Did you see 60 Minutes when CeCe Moore was on it recently?
A: Yes.  

Q: Do you use the same tools?
A: Yes.  Same tools are used for criminal cases, adoption cases and family history research. (Long conversation follows). 

Q: Are you a Private Investigator
A: Yes, a licensed PI, state of MO, one of the hardest licensing states
Historical Researcher and PI on Travel Channel
Hell in the Heartland
At this point, I'm thinking, "why are these questions designed just for my strengths?"

Kathleen Brandt

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Talent / Modeling Agency Contract Gone Bad

On Jan 27,  I signed a two year 20% of gross exclusive contract with a non-franchised (not SAG) local talent agency. My contract was based on GROSS only. Between Feb and April, I went on 5 auditions and landed 3 jobs (2 national). Not until May when the paychecks began to come in did I realized I had made a mistake.

Luckily, I had protected my genealogy TV production media work with an added rider to the contract. So I'm still filming, just not for paid acting commercial work. Still doing voice overs for my normal market.

Oh...and I'm taking acting classes. Now that's fun! I've completed two stage readings with a local production company. Constantly meeting actors in the field who are represented by some awesome Talent Agencies. I'm also working on another local genealogy TV project now. This is an exciting project. But I'm out of the commercial acting business (for pay) for now.

Strikes Given Against Agency
Prairie Band Casino
We all have lines in the sand that we draw. I know others have no issue working with the agency, because, well heck...they are getting paid to be in front of the camera and that's what we all want, right? Well it turns out, that was not my driving force. First of all my biggest goal was to get more camera experience on set. I've had several TV appearances as a genealogist and licensed private investigator on TV shows and I wanted to make sure I was always presenting as comfortable with the cameras. Auditions alone would give me this experience. Secondly, I wanted to find out if I was even bookable as a commercial talent. Would I like it? Commercial acting work is out of my normal skill set. But it did lead me to acting classes as of March and that helps with both TV appearances, news appearances, and keynote speaking jobs. Loving it.

But back to the paychecks. I'm a numbers person. I'm an ex-executive, a business owner and I want others to practice ethically and fairly. And it turns out, my ego is not stronger than my need for ethical and fair practices. Plus, there are other ways to get practice in front of the camera and to hone the needed skills than to sell my integrity. So I had to evaluate this partnership, as I would any other, and the negatives outweighed the positive on set experiences.

Strike 1: Paycheck 1 had a gross of $454.21. Somehow 123.87 was deducted from my paycheck and with a wordy manipulation of money and the explanation, 123.87 was passed as 20% of my gross pf $454.21.. Strike 1:That's not 20%! Remember...I'm a numbers person, but this one wasn't hard to notice. Hmmm...the following is from the Agency (not from the production accounting, which is above).

From Agent to Me. Note Gross of 454.01
All my scribbling was an effort to make sense of it. Igonore it.
Re-read contract, and it says 20% of gross. 
So it appears that even though they are not SAG franchise, the Agency felt entitled to the 10% "Overscale" SAG union franchised benefits, even though that is not in my contract (effective 30%); and they did not extend the SAG rules of 10% for talent to me. Still scratching my head on this one. Remember they are not a SAG franchise agency. If they were I would have paid a 10% commission and they would have gotten overscale. Again, my contract says 20% of gross. Nothing else regarding finances.

This probably was two strikes, but I'm a generous type and chopped it up to I need to do more research. I did. I talked to three other actors on the set and they shared their paystubs and information. Fellow actors (at least in KC) are pretty kind and cool! Lightbulb: this is when I realized there was a stark difference in SAG and non-SAG practices. This led me to talk to a SAG/AFTRA representative, I talked to Team Services (writers of original check - accountants for production company), I talked to my entertainment lawyer, and I spoke to others who had past relationships with this Agency.

Strike 2: On two jobs the Agency deducted 20% of my personal wardrobe reimbursement: Strike 2. Was this normal? Time to ask the experts: Did I mention I'm a researcher and licensed private investigator. I like asking questions.

Yes, I turned to Wendy Alaine Wright of Talent Managers for Actors (TMFA) on facebook for several questions on this issue. I was told by the Agency that "all nonunion non-franchised agencies take commission form the extras listed on your check, including wardrobe, overtime, etc." Of course I was fine with overtime. That makes sense, but my personal wardrobe? Really?

Well, they had the legal right to deduct a commission for themselves on my personal wardrobe, since it was bundled in my gross. But my real question was, is this a normal practice? Again, I could live with that naivete on my part. How did I know wardrobe was part of gross? I guess it's something they knew but I didn't. But I agree with the experts in the industry:

Strike 3: For the second larger two day shoot, I was denied the paystub that showed my gross, so who knows how much my gross was. Strike 3 - not transparent. Guess it didn't pay to ask for and pose questions about the original paystub for the first job. I'm assuming I will find out when 1099's are dished out in Jan 2019. Yay! Jan 2019, that will be one year down off this binding contract.

Stuck in Contract
Was told in orientation that if the arrangement was not working, I could ask to be released. Of course, I was denied. At this point that was expected. Yes, I used an entertainment lawyer, thus the rider that protected my genealogy business and previous production contacts, but the Agency is standing fast to the two year contract. Legally they have the right to do so.

But, that means, I had a rather easy decision to make. 1) don't audition or do paying commercial auditions until Jan 2020 or 2) continue the auditioning process for two years and accept the Agency's practices which personally I deem unethical or at minimum, not transparent. Please know, I was fine with 20% of my gross and the non-SAG franchise agreement. That was not my sticking point at all.

I have a small business. I believe in working with integrity, and transparency. I only make money if my clients are happy. Why would I lower my standards for a few thousand dollars? Why would I feed into a network that does not meet my standards? I wouldn't.

Through the experience with the talent agency at least I learned 1) I'm "bookable" for commercials.
Omaha Steaks, Skillet Meals Commercial
2) I've learned a lot about SAG vs non SAG franchise agencies and guidelines. And this by no means is a slight on non-franchise agencies. I've learned of many that abide by their contracts. In the Kansas City market, however, I must say that the more reputable agencies have a SAG component. Yes I've researched this a lot further since May too.

3) I've learned the value in honing a craft that can be transferable across many fields.

Would I Do It Again?
In the end, this two year contract has been a rather positive learning experience - and I share it with many groups when speaking. I've added it to my offering of keynote speaking - the beginners mistakes. The agencies have a right to practice as they wish, but it is my obligation to share my good and bad experiences and mistakes as a newbie in the business. Plus, I share with participants some of the best agencies and production companies I've worked for in the business. And let's not forget, working on the set with the other actors has been fun. Lots of work. But, fun.

Kathleen Brandt
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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Acting Improv and the Skills

Most of you know that I'm a keynote speaker, storyteller, writer and researcher.  You probably even know that I do client TV shows - research and/or appearances: Who Do You Think You Are, Finding Your Roots (PBS), Travel Channel, History Channel for ITV America, and even Dead Files.  I recently filmed a new pilot. But, I've never billed myself as an actress.  I'm a Genealogist, an Advisor, a DNA expert, a Historian, a Storyteller, and a Licensed Private Investigator.

But this past spring was the time to expand my skills to a new level! So I began taking acting classes in March. Who knew the depth of acting skills?  But it's all paid off.  I decided to start with commercial acting. From March - May, my trial period to determine if I was "bookable," I went on five auditions and booked three commercial TV ad jobs. I think the agency that had represented me on those jobs was even shocked.

How did I do it?  I got the best acting trainer / coach in Kansas City.  Richard Alan Nichols of Actors Craft Studio makes you work, encourages you to hone your skills, and pushes you to strengthen your  improv and concentration work, as well as scene study.  (Shhh...and his price is extremely reasonable- see the flyer above). The classes are fun and a great way to expand your acting community.  I didn't even know Kansas City had such a strong acting community. There are small playhouses, improv opportunities, stage readings and so many other opportunities. Yes, I've already worked on an original stage piece, and I've done a table read for a screenplay.  These opportunites were real eye-openers.  Remember, I'm a REAL beginner!

Currently, I'm taking the Scene Study class with Nichols, and this Improv class starts next week.  Will there be enough time to do them all?

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Where Am I Now?

Did you know I work with the Media: #ITV America, #RedBanditMedia, #Leftfield Pictures#ShedMedia, #PainlessProductions, and more as Expert Genealogist, DNA Expert, and Licensed Private Investigator.

Kathleen Brandt


Pilot Host

Recurring Guest Star

ITV Studios
Dead Files
Guest Star
Travel Channel
Who Do You Think You Are
Guest Star
How the States Got Their Shape
Guest Star
Travel Channel

Prairie Band Casino
Bark Production
Omaha Steaks
Liquid 9 Productions

Monologues / Scene Study
Scene Study: Uta Hagen Method
Actor’s Craft Studio
Actor's-Craft Studio
Richard Alan Nichols
Richard Alan Nichols
Voice Over /Speech
Scene Study/Monologues Process
Actor Training Studio
Actor Training Studio
Andy Garrison
Andy Garrison

Special Skills

Voice Overs
Stage Readings
Industry, Commercial, Radio
Potluck Production, KCMO

Expert Witness

Keynote Speaker
DNA, Genetics and Genealogy
Licensed Private Investigator (MO)
Professional Genealogy
Corporate / Executive Skills
Genealogy Topics
DNA, Genetic Genealogy

Spanish (Castellano), French


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Carrot Soup in Cuernavaca, 2005

On Friday I pushed myself.  I was feeling good and temporarily forgot my health is compromised! The mirror doesn't always reveal my health status.  So I grabbed the leash, not once, but twice to walk the dog.  That was Friday, today is Sunday, I'm still short of breath, have lung pain, and miserable.  Saturday the walk with the dog was restricted to five doors south of my starting point.  I realized this was the making of a disaster, and turned around after a ten minute rest talking to a neighbor.  The dog and I made it two lots north, back toward my home, when I released the leash and let my dog sprint to Hubby on the porch.  I kneeled in hopes to catch my breath. Another 5 minute pause. Hubby, who received a dog without a wife, went in rescue mode immediately. He walked down to assist.  I slowly made it to the house. That was Saturday.

Today it's Sunday. What's a girl to do?  Mostly nothing, while eating nutritiously.  When I feel bad, I remember the delicious carrot soup the Senora made me when I was in Cuernavaca.  This morning, I made carrot soup. It's healing.

Here's an excerpt from the unedited book version of my 2005 Mexico visit. Just a glimpse of why I turn to carrot soup when I'm feeling particularly weak and compromised. 

La Familia – The Family (2005 Cuernavaca)
For twenty four hours there was so much excitement, I ignored all signs of my worsening ailments.  Thanks to the Curandera, I had slept for several hours on the Mexico to Cuernavaca transport bus, and that was refreshing.  There were lots of bendigas (blessings) once I descended the bus, with a wave, in front of the school campus.

I had packed light, much was not needed. I had attended the Universidad de IberoAmerica in Mexico City summer of 1980 and I knew the possible heat that was awaiting me. And, it was a particularly hot summer for Cuernavaca. My suitcase had 5 sets of skirts and thin blouses, and three rolled up sundresses with two pairs of shoes. It all fit in one medium size suitcase. 

At the school registration, there was an oral test. The registrar asked me if I felt okay? My breathing was labored, and walking was difficult.  She hailed me a taxi to my hosting family.  I wanted to lay down and not move. 

My hosts family, a lovely couple, were accommodating, warm, and full of energy.  The universe must know exactly what you need.  The wife was a professional cook and they were into natural healing. They immediately wanted to feed me. It became evident that the school director had called the family before my arrival. I joined two other students, both men. We all met at dinner.  I would never be so rude as to miss meals, so I dragged myself down the flight of stairs that had taken me a long time to ascend and graciously took a teaspoon of everything served. This was the daily meal routine mornings and evenings. I joined the others, even though I couldn’t eat. I nibbled. Also, what became obvious to the family was once I went upstairs after dinner, I did not descend until the next morning.

We had our own rooms and I had my own bathroom.  I was grateful, because I showered a lot during my stay. As I mentioned La Senora was a professional cook.  By dinner of day two she began making me soups, and fruit. My favorite was carrot soup. I had never had carrot soup before, but it felt so comforting.  She also made me pitchers of iced horsetail tea and iced mint tea.  We were not allowed in the kitchen, which was fine with me, but she made sure I had filtered cool water in the room.  The room was hot, no air conditioning, but fans, and I slept little for two weeks.   I learned to lie on the bed with my feet lifted on the headboard. I was trying to get the swelling under control, but it was stubborn. I showered a lot. It was the only thing that made me feel good. Since I was up all night anyway, I did my homework, read extra stories from our reader, wrote elaborate pieces, increased my vocabulary, and studied sentence structure.  My Spanish improved immensely.  That’s my overview of two weeks in Cuernavaca.  It’s also the story I told my husband - I was still bloated with ankle swelling, but it was probably just the altitude and jet lag. My host family did not buy that story. They were looking at me everyday.  They could hear me during the night. They knew I wasn’t sleeping and was forcing myself to eat at least a little. They knew I could not walk the six blocks to the school.  They really did not buy the “I’ll be okay.”  Matter of fact they accepted that for two days only. 

The first day of school, I was excited. I love learning.  In looking back at my diary I had noted before this trip, 6 May 2005 'Mother always wants me to relax, but actually relaxing to me is learning and doing.  I am trying to just breathe! I pray for integrity, honesty and patience and of course an increase in faith. I believe with these tools, I can conquer all.'

Day one of school, I left with the guys. I think they were given strict instructions to watch over me, because they crawled at the same slow pace with me, until we reached the main road two blocks up a slight incline.  I couldn’t go any further.  I convinced them to continue and I caught a taxi for the last 4 blocks.  I tipped big.  I took a taxi home. In my two week of schooling, I only saw the student cafeteria and lounge twice. The school was a large rectangle with an open air pavilion, but there were daunting stairs that I knew would ruin my day. The lounge and cafeteria were on the ground floor, my classes were on the second. I could look down over the open air plaza. I could see the sunshine from the second floor platform, but mostly, I went directly to a class, settled in, and didn’t move.  Between classes there were 15 minute breaks.  I used that time to get to my next class and recover with deep yoga breaths.  Classes were 90 minutes. The students were watching me.  The teachers were watching me. The school director was watching me. 

Day three of the school was full of surprises.  My hostess handed me a sack lunch, and when I followed the guys toward the front door to go to school, the host grabbed his keys.  The night before it was clear the guys had already informed them that I was unable to walk the six blocks to school.  At dinner, the host had casually asked me how much I paid to get to school. I told him $7.00 with tip one way.  It was high traffic, and I was grateful a taxi driver would carry me 6 blocks when they could have made a fortune. I watched the host has his lips twitched.  Then I realized he was doing the math.  So, I was not too surprised when he met me at the front door on day three and announced in a very fast authoritarian Spanish “I will be taking you and picking you up daily for $10.00/day” He opened the door and added “That includes tip.”  I think he expected an argument. My thought, “What a deal!” Plus, I was forced to speak more Spanish with him. 

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Kathleen Brandt
BrandtMotivation@gmail. com

Thursday, April 26, 2018

I Can Do More!

I have recreated myself many times.  I've danced professionally for a Brazilian troop in Europe (Carnivale season), danced with a ballet group in Atlanta, was a system engineer and product manager with Fortune 500s, worked internationally for Belgium company, owned a dance studio in DC, taught foreign languages at universities and colleges, and became a professional genealogists for my senior life and added keynote speaking not just for genealogy but also to motivate and encourage those suffering with chronic and rare diseases.  Yes, I have that too. The issue is my senior-life job choice was premature. 

Yes, I still own a3Genealogy, and I'm scheduling now for 2019 keynote speaking events. They both are thriving.  The other businesses I've sold or dissolved (out of making time for new interests).  This is the recent update: my genealogy and keynote speaking businesses expanded into television appearances, motivational speaking and writing for industry and genealogical journals, and even national magazines. are caught up with my life up to April 2018.

What's New?!?
In 2017...I got called to be a host for an upcoming genealogy based TV show (more info later, has not yet been announced by the network, even though we have already filmed the pilot).  In my search for someone to review the blah-blah-blah of the legal contract, I stumbled across the Life Style Commercial Modeling industry. It was a crash self-paced course on learning the difference between a Talent Agency and an Entertainment Attorney.  (I needed an entertainment attorney, but now have both).  Being the person that I am, I threw my hat into a ring for commercial modeling and have been booked for three shoots so far. That was late January 2018. 

Four auditions later, I have landed two commercials.  One actually included testing food and giving a testimonials.  I'll post it here.  
My 3 seconds toward fame! Fun...I'm at the end.  Omaha Steaks

The second one was for a fun-filled Casino in Kansas. (The commercial will be out in mid May. I'll post it when it airs.)  In the meantime, there were head shots (seen above; more forthcoming), acting classes, with Richard Allen Nichols at Actor's Craft,  and voice over classes and creating the voice over demo reel with another great coach, Andy Garrison at Actor Training Studio.  Oh my... my plate is full, but my life is fulfilling. 

Will see where this takes me!

Kathleen Brandt

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Lost Earring

 In my youth, I read a book about a girl (about my age at the time) who lost a penny - or a coin. It was a form of a mystery for nine year olds.  The details of the book escape me. I can't remember if she lost the penny/coin by dropping it on the street, in a hole, or in her coat pocket.  But she was desperate to find that blasted penny.  My impression now is that she was poor, but this girl has evolved, manifested and impressed herself in my mind's-eye every time I lose anything.  If memory serves me - which I can't say it does- I remember she dropped a second (maybe even a third penny) in the same spot to see if these pennies could find the first.  Of course she kept losing pennies which was devastating (that's probably why I thought she was poor).  Anyway, she  methodically worked out a plan where one penny would find the other(s).  There was a line towards the end of the book where she proclaims something on the line of "of course the penny will always find the other penny (pennies)."  Or it might have been "only a penny can find the other penny."  Who knows.  I looked an hour tonight to find the title of that book.  If you remember it, please share. 

That takes me to my topic: My Lost Earring.  
Here it is in a nutshell.  Friday, I went to French Class, stopped to eat (a rather high caloric lunch only beaten by the amount of its fat gram), and then home.  I know I had both earrings on at lunch.  At home I changed to a warm sweater and swapped shoes from heels to flat Clark's because ....well the weather in Kansas City and the fact that my dog was not going to allow me to rest without his afternooon walk.  Guess he has learned, that if I let grass (or dog hair) grow around my feet, I would not go back out.  It's April freezing here.  Yes APRIL. 

Ok...back to my story.  Leash on, with heaviest gloves to match my red coat (the warmest I own), the victorious mutt and I set out for a walk around a long block.  (I have to say that, so you don't think I'm lazy.  It really is a half mile and it really takes us FOREVER, even in the artic windchill of freakin' April). The mutt refuses to be hurried due to my discomforts.

Sniff, sniff - hike a leg, hike a leg - pull the leash Chewey and I were halfway through the walk before I had a major decision to make.  People with babies in ski suits (looked like it to me) were blocking the east sidewalk, chatting like it was a spring day, and a bulldog had just "apparated" on the top of the hill on the west side.  Not good.  Chewey is still in behavioral training for ugly greetings towards the likeness of both of these subjects.  Not babies.  He loves babies. But, the tall man on the sidewalk, and the bulldog, that was going to take a mastermind to maneuver.  I crossed from the east to the west side of the street and walked up about four houses. Chewey with a keen eye on the tall man with the baby, didn't see the onward coming bulldog still safely 8 houses away with his master.  I then, crossed back to the east side of the street before reaching the POD that was parked on the street.  Yeah, where I live, there are POD's parked on the street.  To be fair it is due to a storm damaged garage from EIGHT MONTHS AGO!  Ok...KC weather, they may be still waiting for spring to rebuild the garage. Heck, I'm waiting for spring to arrive before attacking my to do list.

So...I get to the east side of the street without a lunging circus on the leash, bulldog, hidden by the POD, was out of sight, and we walked home without incident.  FAST FORWARD. 

Where's the Other

Time to go bed -  hair, face, teeth, pj's...where's my earring? The beautiful set Hubby bought me last year for my birthday. One was in my ear lobe as it should've been, but the other ear was 'decorate-less'.  Tired, as usual, I went to bed totally believing it was somewhere in the house.  Saturday night, after a day of looking around, shaking clothes, lifting things on my desk, checking my coat (more than once) and retracing my steps from room to room - everywhere I had talked on a phone, I was convinced the earring was lost. UGH!

But the the worst scenario here is I'd have to pay the designer to make a matching one. But who has money for that????  Woke up on Sunday, 8 April and it was snowing, slushing and doing it's KC thing to ruin another weekend, so I lounged around, took a shower, and put on clean pj's.  I didn't leave the house.  Most people didn't.  

Our block excitement was the old catatonic man on the neighbor's porch who we had to call the police and ambulance on twice in less than twelve hours.  He was still looking for his wife.  He would freeze in place mimicking a mannequin, and stand in one spot for 30 to 60 minutes. All the neighbors were calling each other and describing the scene, but no one wanted to call the police. Hubby called the police in hopes the live mannequin didn't actually freeze. Thanks to Hubby the man was picked up both times without incident. And we are all praying the city was able to help him kindly. 

Lost Earring on Friday.  Now It's Monday

Monday comes, and I'm determined to find that earring.  I must have lost it when I walked Chewey on Friday. (Have I mentioned I'm a licensed private investigator. Seriously!). My childhood book came to mind, I got dressed (at the crack of noon), leashed up the rambunctious mutt, and kept my eyes peeled to the ground as I retraced my steps of three days before.  I made it to the bottom of our hill, before I began to question my own sanity.  Maybe the old man had been outside my house casting a spell of insanity on all that lived within.  I crossed from the east sidewalk to the west just at the right spot. 

How do I know it was the right spot, you ask? Because I went up about four house, totally convinced by now that I had "lost my marbles" (let's just say I think they existed at one time for the purpose of losing).  Before crossing back to the eastside, as I had done on Friday, I looked down. Right at my left foot, laid neatly, my beautiful purple stone (no really it isn't an amethyst, but beautiful none the less) earring.  Right there. Perfect shape.  No damage.  Did I mentioned I had put the other earring in my pocket?  If I learned anything from the girl in the book: "one will find the other." 

Thanks for the bad April weather Mother Nature.  You did me a favor by keeping people by their fireplaces in April, vs enjoying a spring like weekend of dogs, babies and strollers. 

The End....True Story. 

Kathleen Brandt

Monday, March 5, 2018

Breathing, Moving, Inhaling

Image result for copd breathing test
Staying in Breathing Shape
I'm a professional genealogist.  For genealogists' Salt Lake City visits are a must. But at over 4000 feet above sea level, for those with compromised health, Salt lake City require advanced health preparations (AHP).  With the same rigor that my friends prepare for marathons, triathlons, or their active survivor-style trips, I prepare for anything over 2000 feet above sea level. (Really 200 feet above seal level, but I fear you will think I am exaggerating. I'm not)!

Cities nestled in high altitudes have major impacts on my already compromised health. What are my compromised health issues, you ask?  Well there are only really four:

  1. lungs - pulmonary hypertension, and chronic pulmonary embolisms. Need I say more.  
  2. heart - who needs a right atrium? I have an enlarged heart!  Bigger is better right? Not!!!!  
  3. oxygen - I used to say that that breathing is overrated.  I haven't had a good breath since 1992.  Literally, 1992 was the last time I remember having a healthy oxygen saturation. That was my pre-COPD diagnosis. In 1993, I was working in Switzerland and decided to take a long weekend holiday to ski the Alps in St. Moritz - Club Med (does this resort still exist)? This was my first known presentation of "organ betrayal."  I had to request a ride in the snowcat down the mountain alongside the blue run. The full story is rather funny, but only because no one I mowed down on a "fainty" tumble down the top of the run was injured. 
  4. blood - I have a blood clotting autoimmune disease.  This disease keeps me sober, because the intoxicated rarely can pronounce "antiphospholipid antibody syndrome." This is the root of my compromised health. 
Besides my compromised lungs, heart, oxygen and blood, I'm quite healthy.  I have to stay in "breathing" shape.  I know the healthy persons in my life always want to be in "fighting shape," but for me, it's breathing shape.  Now believe me when I tell you that breathing shape is not that great. I usually need an Uber, shuttle or taxi in Salt Lake City for anything over a block. No, I'm not exaggerating.  I can manage to cross a street.  That's it! I struggle to cross the street from the hotel to the conference center. I think my brother has longer fishing lines than my walk across the street. But, before I can get to either door, I have to stop and catch my breath, sometimes twice door to door, and that does not include the wait required at the pedestrian crosswalk .  But for me that's breathing shape, especially for Salt Lake City.  Hubby says if I find myself being disappointed a lot, I need to lower my expectations.  I've become very "cool" with that!

So let me share with you how I stay in Breathing Shape. 

When first diagnosed my doctors directed me to just rest. Exercise was out, "just try to accept the life you have," they said.   My thought was "is that even considered living."  After a 28 day stay in the hospital, within six months I enrolled in a chair yoga class.  I became active with the Lung Association and was a planner for the local gala fundraiser (five years of this).  I could do that from my bed.  I could still talk you know. Yes, I was short winded, but my mouth is strong willed. 
Visit: Yoga 8 Poses
I advanced out of chair yoga to senior yoga (Silver Sneakers).  Ok...they did have their share of chairs too, so I wasn't alone. I was forty-five and I would catch the seniors sneaking that pathetic glance at me, as they nodded to each other. First rule: discard the past.  There would be no more skiing the slopes. I probably can no longer make it to the ski chair, let alone breath that mountain air without fainting and falling out of the chair.  So, I just exercised from my yoga chair next to that eighty-nine year old woman.  I did graduate out of the yoga chair to the pregnancy yoga class.  Don't laugh! Those mothers-to-be get soothing music and modified yoga positions. And it emphasized breathing.  Something I really needed to work on.  

I now walk around the block everyday, rain or shine, heat or cold, wind or humidity. Sometimes it takes me twelve minutes to walk around the block;  sometimes it takes me twenty-four. Sometimes, my route is charted for the flattest route, sometimes - ok, rarely, I try to make it up the slightest of inclines without having to stop in front of every house for my dog to mark a tree. This is not a rigorous walk, this is a friendly route.  I am the only person in the neighborhood that can name every person on the block and tell you how many children they have.  The key is to build up stamina. 

Eat right.  
I'm NOT even going to give you my speech.  But your diet weighs in on your inflammation, pain, and comfort level of the day. Why have a bad day? We already struggle to breath. And in Salt Lake City, your food choices need to be intentionally good.  I probably under eat just a bit. Never hungry, but never full.  "Full" hurts when you are struggling to breathe.  

The lower my weight, the better I feel.  Let me change that, I feel optimum when my weight is in the lower half of the recommended Body Mass Index (BMI)  Again, don't get too excited, I just want to cross a street. For those with compromised health, we must do whatever it takes to be at the Breathing, Moving, Inhaling (BMI) optimal level. 

Last Tip
Penn State News: Mindfulness
Oh and my last tip to you.  Smile.  Just smile with every exhale.  With a smile, you can make it to the other side of the street, even in Salt Lake City. 

Kathleen Brandt, Keynote Speaker
"Health is Wealth"

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Brain Stimulation is Important

Related image
Today the conversation came up twice.  "How did you keep going when you were so sick?" My answer is always the same. I just kept functioning.  I didn't want for yesterday, I lived in the present.  What can I do today?  That was, and still is, my daily morning question.  Sometimes, it's walk the dog, sometimes, it's read a book, or listen to French tapes.  I get dressed everyday, style my hair, put on makeup and a smile and "function."  

The definition of function: "an activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing."

Well what was natural one day was not the same the next, so I functioned for "that" day.  It would sometimes take me all day to pull together an evening meal. For me, that was the easy chore.  Getting dress was sometimes breath-taking. It took tactical planning to succeed, but each day I planned my successes.  I still do.  

Here's an excerpt of a day in 2004.  
Brain Stimulation
In spite of feeling weak and short of breath 24/7, I picked up more hobbies. I sewed more, did crafts, decorated the house, and prayed a lot.  For one, I prayed that my hair would stop falling out. I could take feeling sick, but the loss of hair reminded me daily I was sick.  It was an announcement to the world, "Hey look at the sick woman over there!"  

One day I was at a Dillards with mother.  I hate shopping but anything to get me out of the house. I believe it was Mother’s take-back day.  She and her friends would go shopping. Come back with a bag full of items that they had tried on in the store.  They would wait until the next day, and try on their new garments. Then they declared the items ugly, and unfitting, or unbecoming, or wrong color, and they would take back 80% of whatever they bought.  I’m just guessing here, but it does seem that they returned eight out of ten of their newly purchased clearance items. 

This particular day was one that confirmed that people saw me as sick. It was about 2004.  I was forty-four years old and it was getting more difficult to hide my thinning hair.  But it wasn’t the hair that caught this woman’s attention.  She asked, “when are you due?” as she stared at my distended belly.  I weighed no more than 132lbs; well within my BMI but I suffered from ascites. Some days were worse than others. I tried to dress accordingly. On bad days, I'd hide it behind large flowing tops.  But some days it was not possible to hide the protruding ball that was my abdomen.  I usually stayed home and worked on the family genealogy, when I knew I was not fit to go out in public.  The days I would only feel safe within the confines of my house. Surprisingly,  the student’s at the Community College, where I taught part time, never mentioned it, but I often taught sitting on a desk. I would arrive early, position myself on top of the front desk next within arm reach of the projector.  They knew I had breathing issues, everyone knew I had breathing issues.  But the students were unexpectedly kind and tolerate. Plus, I was the exercise and game queen. Is there a better way to teach Spanish?

When I did leave the house, barring work,  it was to go to the National Archives - KC. I’d also take genealogy classes locally.  My theory was, I can feel bad sitting in someone else's chair as well as my own." I had added genealogy to my hobby list in 2000 and was pretty knowledgeable of the local repositories and resources.  I found my “free-colored” family in a 1860 census at the National Archives - KC. I was visiting the Kansas City Bannister branch of the National Archives. This was an unexpected discovery since only free persons were listed in that Federal census. But my grandfather Cecil always claimed his grandfather was born free. This research consumed me. I lost my troubles in the stacks of the genealogy library, the National Archives, and the State Historical Societies (Missouri and Kansas). My worries did not surface while rolling microfilm and digging in newspaper collections. Mother would sometimes join me.  In spite of her being an archival researcher, she was very distracting, but loved the research.  We would talk about my findings all the way to our little church in Ringwood, OK and back.  This was my passion. And it helped make the six hour one way trip to serve the Lord tolerable.

By 2002 I was teaching days at the community college. I was still an adjunct, and taught ten credit hours. I was making a name for myself as being strict, but my students were learning and they didn’t dare show up without their homework. That allowed for more classroom games, more speaking Spanish, more cultural experiences.  I was getting more involved in the school, and proposed two new classes.  The emphasis was on writing intensive courses, and again my thought was “I can do this.”  I didn’t expect the administration to take a visibly weakened adjunct teacher seriously when I proposed two Writing Intensive courses: Latin American Humanities, and Latin American Literature.  But the proposals were accepted and implemented. These classes were always filled and I was honored to share my master degree studies.  Plus, when my health worsened, and online courses became popular, these writing courses easily transitioned to my home office.

Teaching was not my passion.  But I was functioning. Slow, methodical, short of breath... but functioning.

Kathleen Brandt, Keynote Speaker
"Health is Wealth"

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Health and Genetics

Can DNA Uncover Health Hints?
Staying abreast of the trends in genealogy can be daunting, but is definitely necessary for the serious family historian or professional genealogist.  

Why Now?
In 2004, the Surgeon General, in cooperation with other agencies, launched the Surgeon General's Family History Initiative to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health history.  Thanksgiving has been declared National Family History Day, allowing for updates and information to be shared at an annual family gathering. There's even a "My Family Health Portrait Tool" to enter your family health history and learn about your risk for conditions that can run in families. But can genetics and genealogy really paired?  The answer is yes. 

What is Medical Genealogy?
Medical Genealogy, Genetics for Genealogists, and Family Health History are all names we hear when referencing tracing and documenting one’s family medical patterns.  It is  not just the application of genetics applied to traditional genealogy; therefore, I prefer the term “Medical Genealogy” as I believe this keeps the family historian focused.  (How many geneticists do you know who are genealogists or family historians?).”

“Medical Genealogy is the practice of tracing and recording family health patterns that are unique to your family (hopefully to include three generations) in order for the family practitioner to analyze.
Defined by Kathleen Brandt - a3Genealogy,
 Not an official definition, 2010. 

Although genealogists and family historians are quite talented, we don’t want to cross the lines of diagnosing based on family history, or predicting life spans or early deaths based on information and patterns.  Our job is to recognize patterns and document them.

What Traits and Health Analysis Discovered via DNA?
As a community, we can begin by gathering family data and creating a helpful family health tree. You may also want to include the 23andMe limited health analysis approved by FDA standards, using DNA. Know that only 23andMe include the following reports:

Carrier Status: are you a carrier for an inherited condition? This includes cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, Hereditary Hearing Loss, Sj√∂gren-Larsson Syndrome and more. To see the list of possible reports from A - Z visit the All Carrier Status Reports. You may also find it interesting that some genes are most notable within ethnic groups. This is a great place to visit to learn about common diseases if you are of French Canadian , Ashkenazi Jewish, Danish, Finish of African heritage. 

Food Preference: Most would agree that DNA can affect lactose intolerance, and muscle composition. It's not far fetched to believe that DNA can affect alcohol flush reaction, but can DNA really affect caffeine consumption? According to 23andMe the answer is yes.  Learn more at Wellness Reports (scroll down linked page.)

Traits Report: Of course genetics play a part in your "likelihood of having certain characteristics" to include the color of your hair and facial features, but the list of 23andMe Traits reports include  whether an individual will have asparagus odor detection.  Yes, Asparagus Odor Detection! 

Kathleen Brandt

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Family Health Tree: Medical Genealogy and You

What is a Family Health Tree?
In 2010, I was honored to serve on a committee for the Surgeon General project that provided Access the My Family Health Portrait Web Tool. I was an advising member for a Kansas University Medical Center grant whose goals were stated as“helps users organize family history information and then print it out for presentation to their family doctor.”  This website is now housed and maintained by Health and Human Services.
Using the tools provided, genetic genealogists may create an At-a-Glance Medical Tree.  Once you’ve gathered your data/information, by following the symbols that are defined (or add some of your own), this tree can be a breeze, and useful to the entire family and can be reviewed by your geneticists if necessary.

Where to Find Data/Information? 
  • The information needed to complete a “family health tree” is probably in your family files.  Take a close look at the cause of death on death certificates or obituaries.
  • Review medical records - we often get a copy of veteran medical records.
  • Take note of patterns: premature deaths, infertility patterns in women, birth defect patterns (I have seen some noted on census records), sibling patterns of illnesses, etc. 
The Goal - Take it to Your Doctor
In the end you should have a tree completed like the one above.  Your family and doctor will appreciate the family research. 

Kathleen Brandt

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Understanding DNA for Medical and Health

Medical Genealogy questions have flooded the Brandt Motivation email box.  So, I will spend time the next few days in posting on this series. 

Remember, we use these types of DNA test only in conjunction with medical genealogy and with a geneticist.

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Your Super Bowl

World Cancer Day and Super Bowl Sunday
There are many reasons to eat healthy. For me my options are dictated by my health and the strong need to keep inflammation at bay.  I have a rare autoimmune disease, as many of you know, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, also called lupus anticoagulation or Hughes Syndrome. Inflammation can determine everything for me, breathing, pain, discomfort, ascites, edema, activity level, focus level, hair loss...I said everything! So I keep "Clean Recipes" close at hand and probably properly choose to eat this way 80% of the time.

So I though I'd share a few that I found from my Pilates Studio.  They are fun.  These were posted by Pilates 1901 in Kansas City if you want to meet me there.  It's one of low cardio exercises that I do on a regular basis that help keep the heart pumping and the lungs working. It's low key but I get to concentrate on breathing.  Yes, breathing is an issue.

Clean Eating - A Bowl for Lunch or Dinner

            Protein – 120 calories chicken, turkey, fish, tempeh, tofu, edamame, or eggs made with 1 tsp HEALTHY oil. 

    1      Grain – 1/2c quinoa, brown rice or diced, cooked sweet potato.
    2      Greens – 1c kale, baby spinach, or other leafy greens (I used fresh chopped Red Leaf lettuce, here)
    3      Veggies – 1c roasted, steamed or raw veggies
    4      Beans – 2T-3T of your choice of beans(optional) If using canned, be sure to rinse!
    5      Fat – 50 calories avocado, feta cheese, hummus, guacamole, or homemade dressing (from CFC dressing guide).
    6      Unlimited fresh lime, lemon juice, or vinegar may also be used as additional dressing.
    7      Seal, store (dressing/fats separate) in the refrigerator & eat within 3-4 days.
Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series