The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss Warmland.

August 3 LIVE on Northumberland 89.7 FM Small Town Radio!
LISTEN HERE for the podcast version. 


Hear my chat with the incredible Kim Doolittle!!

We chat about :
– Writing and performing music
– Her newest album “Into the Blue
– Being a long-term pillar of the music community for 40+ years
– Being a chick singer
– The housing crisis in Northumberland County

AND!!!! She played a song live on air!!!

Featured Tunes:

Jimmy Bowskill and Carlos Del Junco
Abby Zotz
Al Kirby and Jim Yates.



I chose Gender Studies as my field. There’s a whole backstory as to why, but it culminated in a dream of working in women’s shelters designing and facilitating community outreach education that prevented gender-based violence. Unfortunately, that industry didn’t want me (turns out that operating within an industry full of red tape that perpetuates the problems it claims to try to solve isn’t the right fit for me). So I worked in a lot of different industries- theatre, film, frontline social work, not-for-profits, the restaurant industry, even the cannabis industry, where I got my first upper management role at the age of 26. It was then that I got really curious about leadership and what it meant. If I’m actively working to reject some of these structures (patriarchy, colonialism- capitalism and its children, basically), I figured I should reflect on it.  It’s something I still don’t think I’ve really gotten the hang of, years later, and it didn’t click why until recently. I don’t lead like a man, and the hegemonic understanding of leadership is one defined by a colonialist, patriarchal society. Duh.

It is hard to lead in a way that our world, as we know it, wasn’t built around. It’s hard to receive leadership in a way other than the over-under power dynamics that inform how we have learned to be in a social world.

But what does it mean not to lead like a man? Isn’t the very act of defining a concept like leadership in gendered terms essentialist, and thus, oppressive and replicating the same dynamics with which I seek to think my way through and out of? Where does this leave people who don’t fall within a clear gender binary? Where does it leave women who are living and leading in male-dominated industries? Where does it leave men who actively work to reject the masculinities of the past (which inform our concept of “leadership)?

What are we even talking about? The definition of leadership is, “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”. To lead, is defined as, “be a route or means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction”. So, we’re talking about working with others towards a shared goal in a way that provides clear direction.

“Good” leadership is hard to pin down. Traditionally, it’s something that produces results. It’s more about the end project than the process. It gets the team where they need to go. I’ve seen the way this unfolds in workplaces, whether they’re paid or not (unpaid labour is still labour). It causes disconnection among the team throughout the process. It’s not a conducive mindset to being holistically well. And, though capitalism may have us believing otherwise, it’s actually not the most productive way to be. It’s just the way we know.

I asked a really open-ended question on my Facebook page. I limited it to my 1 348 friends and got 60 comments. I asked, “What does it mean to lead like a woman?”. No context, just a question, open to interpretation. A lot of people described their lived experiences of being women in leadership roles. They talked about power struggles, the impact of their appearance on those power struggles, and less pay for more work. One friend I reached out to privately was so burnt out that she shared she’d decided it wasn’t worth the fight to be a woman in leadership right now and that she was going to save her energy. (edit: since publishing this essay, multiple other women I love have reached out to share they feel or have felt this way too.)

A lot of people were reluctant to acknowledge that sexism does rely on binaries that are present in the lived experience of people who will be, correctly or incorrectly, gendered according to the concepts we hold to be true about gender. I want to explicitly acknowledge that it shouldn’t be that way. I hope my son grows into a world where things look wildly different. I do believe we are building that for him and  his peers. I think that so many commenters reluctance to essentialize gender is a sign that this shift is immature, but present. Plenty of people acknowledged that they’ve had awesome bosses who were both men and women, as well as terrible bosses who were both men and women. This isn’t surprising, since there have literally been studies done about the phenomenon of women acting masculine, in fact, hypermasculine, in male-dominated spaces.

People asked some important questions I’m still sitting with too.

“Leading like a white woman?” My friend named this as dangerous. I’m going to keep this question at the forefront of my mind as I continue to try to figure this shit out.

People did some cool reporting that might contribute to world-building about leading “like a woman”. They used words I also use when I think about this. Words like compassion, care, fairness, balance, human, listening, empathy, strength, nurturing, serving their people, showing up. So it seems that the consensus in my comment section, and I’d be inclined to agree, is that it is equally as important to consider the human process and the human impact of the labour it takes to reach a shared goal as it is to meet that end goal.

I want to add that I think leading “like a woman” can also mean gathering multiple truths to inform the shared goal so that it really is meaningfully shared.

This language I’m using for the sake of communicating tough ideas to the most people is obviously flawed. I’m not really talking about leading like a woman, I’m talking about creating a conception of leadership that is more human than capitalism-supporting structures allow for. I’m talking about compassionate leadership.

When I wonder what this means for me and the times and spaces where I take leadership, I recognize that I’m too quick to take on too much of the labour on a project. I do this at work when I work with my team to establish what exactly needs to be done and ask others to take ownership over tasks and there are tasks no one else has the capacity for. I take ownership by default, because I’m responsible for the outcome. I do this at home too. I take on more of the load with parenting and housework because I’m good at it and happy to do the work. But this does leave me with more work. Perhaps leading like a woman needn’t mean sacrificing myself OR the wellbeing of my team (or family), but adjusting the goal for the outcome. Maybe it’s as simple as needing a bit more time. Or drawing on the network of relationships outside of the team I’ve worked hard to cultivate. I know it doesn’t mean sacrificing time or the quality of time with my family. I’ve been working on a co-op childcare exchange with another mom and my son frequently nurses in meetings. I know being a woman in leadership means looking to my friends who chose to or are forced to by nature of their subject position radically resist patriarchal concepts of leadership. My friends who reject gender binaries, who don’t experience the benefits of whiteness, my fellow disabled leaders who navigate the fluid restrictions of our bodies. I look to the mothers in my life. Generations of mothers and mothering people.

What does this mean for you? It means there’s a call to operate compassionately within leadership and to orient ourselves within the human impact of labour on our way to reach shared goals, whether that goal is a grant application, launching a new program, obtaining a new account, teaching a child to use the washroom, or working towards the revolution. Maybe this is a small step, but it holds the potential to create a significant impact on the lived experience of people where we’re at right now.

Audre Lorde said, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing” and I think she gets to the root of what it means to lead compassionately. We must be deliberate in our process and the fluidity of our goals. And we must be afraid of nothing, including the vulnerability that comes with compassionate leadership.

The Nothing Exists Radio Hour ended in early 2021, but you can still listen to episodes on iTunes, Shopify, and Google Play.

On this page, you’ll be able to check out the blog posts that correspond with each episode. Please note that the links to the episodes won’t connect to a streamable version of the episode, you’ll have to find it in your podcasting app of choice!

Thanks for listening<3

My birthday falls a mere two weeks after Christmas, so I’ve always advocated for a meaningful celebration. If I don’t, people tend to be too broke and too “peopled-out” to care about getting together. In my twenties, I started holding “Lyssmas”, a holiday where I’d gather all my favourite people to eat waffles and chocolate, listen to the entire Propaghandi discography on vinyl, and explore outside. Upon invitation, many friends would ask who else was going only to discover that they didn’t know many other people who would be gathering. I’m a person with a variety of interests who occupies many worlds, so I would inevitably derive the guestlist from my favourite people from each area of my life. A couple friends from theatre, a couple friends from university, a couple punks, one or two friends from high school, a few friends I’d met through my partner, some other community-oriented artists. I’d trust that they would all get along just fine, and probably even swimmingly. It was at one of these Lyssmas gatherings that I overheard one of my oldest friends refer to me as a “friend curator”.
Being named a “friend curator” felt like the highest honour. I connected with people who shared my fundamental values and who brought their unique skills and overall essence to my life in a way I appreciated. I really value connecting with other human beings for who they are. I appreciate it from an emotional place, and also from a place of curiosity. I love learning about the inside of someone’s head, especially when their lens is clearly different from my own. When someone brings up an idea or initiative, I can almost always say, “do you know [so and so]? They might be interested in this – do you want me to connect you with them?”. In fact, this is often the most valuable contribution I can bring to a team.

Needless to say, I’m also interested in community. What is it? What does it even mean? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do we prioritize collective care while maintaining a sense of autonomy? What can I bring to the table and what do I need? Who is sitting at this table, who’s missing from the table and what barriers keep them from joining in? Why do the people showing up feel invited? I have a lot of ideas about answers to these questions, but I’m also clear about the fact that there isn’t one simple answer. What I do know for sure is that, when it comes to building community, being a friend curator comes in handy.

When I became a parent, I expected to be able to approach it as a well-connected anarchafeminst. As a friend curator. I expected to be able to meet with and connect with other parents who, again, shared my fundamental values and also brought their own unique skills and outlooks to any conversation around parenting. I expected to be able to reject ways of parenting that replicated the power dynamics that are rooted in disconnection, and therefore, oppression and all that comes with it. 

Having expectations is something I struggle with, because my brain wants things to happen logically. Since I’ve spent nearly thirty years honing my connection-building skills, I expect that I’ll be able to draw on connection when I need it. Unfortunately, expectations don’t normally pan out that way, because they centre our own reality rather than the reality of another person/ other people in the relationship. It essentially actively undermines their autonomy and cheats everyone out of connection. Having expectations as a community-oriented, friend-curating new parent was a big mistake.

The advent of parenthood came for me on the wings of a global pandemic, a time when drawing on my connections looked entirely different than I’d expected, and this was disappointing. Regardless, in the first year of parenthood, I survived and found every gift I could in forming my own unique relationship with my son while redefining other relationships in my life: my partnership, my role as a daughter/sister/niece/grandaughter, my role as a friend, my role as an activist. I was able to come home to who I was as a carer without any background noise of trying to navigate external relationships in person. My world turned virtual, and with that, came the opportunity to practice stricter boundaries. Conversations about consent became more mainstream, as everyone navigated what level of in-person meeting was comfortable for them, depending on a multitude of factors. So many of those blurry answers to that question, “How do we prioritize collective care while maintaining a sense of autonomy?” became simultaneously collective and divisive. Through the pandemic, I continue to receive the gift of the opportunity to expand my own ideas around this question, while I model navigating it for my child. And as is the theme of pandemic new-parenthood for me, it’s a gift to embrace the completely unexpected. 

The other gift that came from the urge to make connections during this time has been through prioritizing connecting with my child. Although I have felt disconnected in many ways, including from the general political climate we’re situated in, I’ve been able to channel that need for community and connection to be centred on my relationship with my child during the formative years of his life. The general culture we’re situated in discourages this level of connection through the focus on working outside the home in order to meet basic human needs. We’re all so busy trying to survive under late capitalism, that we’re fundamentally disconnected from our children from an early age. One thing about the effect the pandemic has had on the way our society functions is that it’s slowed life down in a way that forces us to be with the people in our own dwellings. This can be a good thing in some homes, although it’s also resulted in an increase in domestic violence

I’ve discovered that there are both good and bad outcomes related to being connected to our children without the balance of connection with our greater communities. It’s been a few years since I celebrated Lyssmas, and I really miss it. I do. I feel the absence of gathering with important people in my life, to learn from them and share with them. Still, I’m grateful for technology, I’m grateful to have a place to live, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to build connection with my child. My hope for him is that this creates a radical sense of connectedness, confidence, and a deep well to draw from as he embarks on the work he’ll do in this world and the person he’ll be. My hope for myself is that I use this time to reflect on the same questions I’ve been asking myself for years with an entirely new perspective.

What is community? What does it even mean? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do we prioritize collective care while maintaining a sense of autonomy? What can I bring to the table and what do I need? Who is sitting at this table, and why are the people who aren’t at the table missing? Why do the people showing up feel invited?

I’m going to keep asking these questions and gathering more thoughts in response to them. I’m going to continue to curate friends and to value them for who they are. And I’m going to keep on actively caring for and connecting myself, my family, and for my communities. From the outside, it may look like I’m doing nothing, but I can confidently assert that this is big work. Important work. And I’m proud to be on this destination-void ride. 


I’m Fine is the story of a family as they navigate the cycles of birth and death.

Four repressed siblings discuss the logistics of relocating their aging mother to a Long Term Care Facility while welcoming a new baby into the family – all while isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


I’m Fine is relatable in various ways to most, whether that’s from the perspective of a new mother, a new grandparent bridging distance in hopes of connecting with his daughter and grandchild, the adult child whose parents require more care than they can give them, or the partner of a person who is moving into the next stage of life. There’s something here for everyone.

I was inspired by the disconnected form of connection that comes with communicating through technology and the way that creatively represented the disconnected form of connection many families default to during challenging times. I was also inspired by the way people have been resilient through the challenge that is the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the context of parent-child dynamics at all stages of life. I also feel inspired every day by feminized labour and care work.


This play takes place entirely over Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and WhatsApp, so it explores the way we strive to connect through technology when we can’t connect physically.

Sweet Coffee Club is an interdisciplinary creative collaborative between Lyss Warmland and Jeannette Breward. We create surrealist photos based on original poetry. It’s a project we’ve been working on for almost two years, over the course of both of us becoming mothers alongside one another, and are ready to finally push out into the world. Sweet Coffee is one of the first poems we worked from.

Our work aims to find connection, care, and empowerment through creative expression that centres our relationship with our Selves, our bodies, and a relationship with the earth.

Sweet Coffee Club is unapologetically feminist. This work is about the lived experience of the women we are. It’s political and personal all at once. It’s soft and mean and spiritual and firmly grounded. We are white, and queer, and cis, and anxious, and sore, and tired, and settled, and vulnerable, and honest… but we don’t want Sweet Coffee Club to be just about those perspectives.

You can join Sweet Coffee Club too. Show us, however it makes sense to you, how you, in your body, find connection, care, and empowerment through your relationship with the environment around you. Mention us and hashtag your posts and stories #sweetcoffeeclub 💓

To learn more about Sweet Coffee Club, please visit our Instagram and check out this article by Jenni Burke!

Karen, I see you
Your hair used to reach 3/4 of the way
To that space where your waist curves in
Where your lover used to hold you
But now you can’t stand to be touched 
by the end of the day

You cut your hair because your baby,
Captivated by its colour 
when it catches the light,
Grabs the front pieces that had just started to
Grow back
Postpartum hair loss 
Doesn’t include the loss from infants
Manually extracting hairs from their mothers but it’s never looked less like yours
And more like his

You cut your hair because 
Who has time to style it when 
It’s more important 
To chase after your newly mobile son
And you lost your curls when he
Lived in your body 
His first home
You thought he may have stolen them
The way he stole your childhood birthmark
But his hair is straighter than an arrow

Karen, I see you when you lose it
At the coffee shop barista because
She put cows milk in your almond milk order
Because your body can’t process cows milk
Since everything changed 
And it’s the first time you’d spoken to 
Another adult all day and
No one has listened to you in nine months
So that almond milk order was your attempt
To reach out for what you needed and
It went unheard 

That barista is someone’s baby
And she phoned her mother during her
Cigarette break from her shift 
To reach out to her verbally because
She hasn’t seen her in nine months 
Because she has to work to pay her rent and
Her mother has been sick for years and 
She just doesn’t know what 

the right thing 

to do 


Just like you don’t really know what he right thing

To do


I see you, Karen, 
You feel unheard because you are
And so is she
And this isn’t new
This isn’t about milk
This isn’t about masks
This isn’t about care
This is about desperation. 

Check out my conversation with Morgaine (aka Sari) and Sophia!

We talk about:
– what brought them to spiritualism
– how they feel about the language of “witch”/”witchcraft”
– what their spiritual practices look like
– All about their upcoming courses
– How to create safer spaces in spiritual practice
– Effective grounding
– Connecting with divinity, the inner self, and the outer self

and more!

Featured Tunes:
Witchcraft by Elvis Presley
The Mirage by Bad Cop Bad Cop
Of Flesh and Blood by Jenn Fiorentino
Rainy Weather by Hailiah

Check out my conversation with Sarah Norris Andrews!

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses, closeup and outdoor

We talk about:
– How Sarah came to Northumberland County
– Babywearing and getting outside locally
– Sarah’s experience parenting as a non-binary parent
– Gendered language
– the messages they learned about gender and what they want to teach their daughter
…and way more!

Check out my conversation with my Uncle Bob!

We talk about:
– How Bob got interested in air traffic control and aviation
– What his job was like and how he got there
– The shift in technology over his 35 year career
– What it was like working on 9/11
– How being detail-oriented and confident was important for air traffic control
– What it’s like working on a male-dominated industry and how it’s shifting
– Staying well and managing stress in a high stakes job
and more!

To learn more about air traffic control, visit

Check out my conversation with Sherry Heenan!

We talk about:
– What pelvic physiotherapy is and who can benefit
– How Sherry got interested in pelvic health
– Sex after birth
– How pelvic physiotherapy can benefit people of all genders
– C-sections and pelvic health
– incontinence
– What it means to empower women
– What “moving well” and “birthing well” mean
– What a first pelvic physiotherapy appointment is like
and more!

Sherry’s website.
Sherry’s Facebook.
Sherry’s Instagram.
Nurturing Health website.